, NAIROBI, Kenya Nov 9 – Operations at East Africa’s largest referral hospital were paralysed on Wednesday after more than 4,000 workers went on strike over pay arrears.
The unionisable workers of Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) are demanding Sh227 million commuter allowance arrears from the government.
The workers from various departments reported to work in the morning but did not carry out their normal duties, causing a major crisis at the hospital.
They claim that the government has already paid the allowances to other civil servants but is yet to pay them the negotiated allowance accrued from July to date.
Only patients at the Intensive Care Unit and High Dependency Unit were attended to but those in other departments and wards did not receive services.
Doctors were however, carrying out their normal duties.
The Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotel, Educational Institutions, Hospitals, and Allied Workers (KUDHEIHA) Secretary General Albert Njeru complained that the government had neglected and discriminated against KNH workers forcing them to strike.
“Inflation and high cost of fuel are among the reasons for the strike and we therefore advice our patients to seek treatment services in other health facilities until the Government resolves this issue,” Njeru said.
He said the workers feel that their employer had time and again failed to honour the Collective Bargaining Agreement with the union.
Njeru told the protesting workers that the government’s inaction to address their grievances had undermined the staff morale and that a letter to Medical Services Minister Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o over the staff concerns.
“I have not received any reply from him despite making several advances for payment of the allowance,” he protested.
He announced that the striking health workers will only provide limited care to patients in theatre and the Intensive Care Units (ICU) but will not admit new patients.
The Hospital’s CEO Richard Leresian was holed up in a crisis management meeting to try to resolve the crisis to save patients.