KNH faces court battle over sacking

January 13, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 13 – A former chief steward who was sacked by the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), for giving Capital News an interview over a row on overtime allowances and corruption scandals involving the hospital has vowed court action if he is not unconditionally reinstated by Friday.

Speaking to Capital News on Thursday, Seth Panyako said he and the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) would engage KNH in a spirited court battle since his dismissal was an infringement of human rights.

He argued that his removal from office was unwarranted because he gave the interview as an authorised union official following the standoff.

“I was just dismissed; there was no communication about my benefits or the salary which they have been holding for the last seven months. They did not even give me in lieu of notice and I believe their actions are a violation of the new Constitution,” he argued. 

On the same day he gave the interview (last year, June 11), Mr Panyako was suspended with half pay plus house, outpatient medical cover and transport allowances. His dismissal letter was issued on January 10 accusing him of “gross misconduct and loss of trust” in addition to “holding a media brief with Capital FM without the express authority of Chief Executive Officer as stipulated in hospital terms and conditions of service.”

“In view of the above and considering the seriousness of the offence, it has been resolved that you should be and hereby dismissed from service with effect from January 4, 2011," read the unsigned letter in part.

During the interview in question, Mr Panyako told Capital News that the hospital’s management had refused to address nurses’ grievances leading to a one month drag that saw only six out of 18 theatres function normally.

“The impact is enormous; we have patients who have travelled from far because Kenyatta happens to be the only government hospital in Kenya offering paediatric surgery and when we have patients coming all the way from Mombasa and they are turned back that is very disappointing,” he had said then.

Earlier this week, COTU had separately threatened to sue the KNH if they did reinstate Mr Panyako.
In the meantime, the union official has also accused some sections of the hospital’s leadership of promoting impunity and corruption adding that he had already forwarded to the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission (KACC) a dossier containing the alleged graft scandals.

“I have reported the issues to KACC and they have the file so I hope they will move to Kenyatta soon. I also know that 45 heads of parastatals are being investigated and again I believe Kenyatta is one of them,” he said.

“The area CID in charge of Kenyatta also has the report and I believe they will also look into it and I honestly think that specific bodies of the government including the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists’ Board should move in,” he added.

Workers at the hospital have had a protracted row with the management and government mainly over poor pay and corruption allegations at the hospital which has led to the staff downing their tools on several occasions.

Efforts to reach the hospital’s management remain unsuccessful. 

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