, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 12 – The standoff between health professionals and the government continued on Monday as the nurses’ representatives tried to unsuccessfully seek audience with Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Medical Services Minister Anyang’ Nyong’o.
One team led by National Nurses Association of Kenya Treasurer Jeremiah Maina camped at the PM’s office for four hours before joining their striking colleagues at Uhuru Park where they chanted slogans expressing their solidarity.
Speaking to capital News, Maina said they would not be cowed or intimidated following last week’s pronouncement by the government that striking health workers had been sacked.
“These are the people who sign performance contracts. If by 12 noon nobody has come to address us, then we ask what is the government there for?” wonder Maina who added that their colleagues who had gone to the Ministry of Medical Services had failed to get audience with any official.
The Association’s National chairman Luke Kodambo urged all nurses who received termination letters not to panic.
“My message to them is that they should be calm. We are already handling those issues at a very high level so they should not be worried. Let them receive those letters but forward them to us,” he said.
The Union of Kenya Civil Servants Secretary General Tom Odege who was at the Ministry of Health headquarters pointed out that a compromise should instead be reached to break the deadlock.
“It is true people are receiving ‘show-cause letters’ and we want to ask the government not to go in that direction because forcing over 25,000 people to write response letters to them would amount to intimidation which I do not think is good for our relationship,” he said.
The nurses afterwards proceeded to the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) where the Prime Minister was due to open the People’s Conference on National Diversity, Race and Ethnicity hosted by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission.
Their efforts bore no fruit however as the PM left before they could air their grievances.
Nurses at the New Nyanza provincial hospital in Kisumu in the meantime boycotted work in solidarity with their counterparts who received sacking letters from the Ministry of Medical Services for participating in the strike.
The nurses vowed to continue deserting their work stations until the ministry withdraws the sacking letters.
The hospital has 500 nurses who all participated in the strike but only 300 sacking letters have been issued by the ministry.
“The nurses are ready now and they even have the uniform so that they can go back to work. But if even one of them is affected by the sacking order, this will have a negative impact on everyone.”
The nurses now want the Ministry of Medical Services to explain the rationale it used to victimise a section of the nurses when every nurse at the hospital had fully participated in the countrywide strike.