NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 5 – Nurses and other health workers on Monday defied a return-to-work deal struck the previous night by their union representatives and the government.
The nurses said all the issues they had raised had been ignored and nothing tangible was offered in the deal.
The workers who staged a demonstration at Uhuru Park vowed not to return to work until they got a better proposal.
“We also saw it in camera like you people also saw it. We didn’t know that the strike is supposed to be called off. We don’t know what was put on the table so that they could call off the strike and that’s why we have come here because we are not content,” said an agitated nurse from Mathari Hospital in Nairobi.
“We were not consulted and there is nothing that has been put on the table. They are just promises so we have said we are not going back without food on the table.”
The Union of Kenya Civil Servants which had organised the industrial action called off the health workers’ strike on Sunday night following talks with the Medical Services Minister Anyang’ Nyong’o.
During Sunday night’s meeting led by the union Secretary General Tom Odege, it was agreed that there would be no victimisation of health workers who took part in the strike.
But on Monday, he said: “We formed a committee to look into all those issues and now because workers are not ready to go back on duty (sic), it’s my responsibility as their leader to go back and tell the government to tell the workers what it is planning for them,” Odege told Journalists.
The meeting between the government and union officials had resolved to set up a seven member committee which would start work on Wednesday and report to the minister in April.
“The committee was to prioritise the issues so that they could be addressed based on the urgency,” Odege said.
National Nurses Association chairman, Luke Kodambo said the health workers across the country were against returning to duty without a substantial deal.
“Members are not happy across the country; they have received this message (strike call-off) with a lot of anger. This is a very difficult situation,” Kodambo said.
The strike began on Thursday last week but was ignored by nurses at the Kenyatta National Hospital, the largest referral hospital in the country.
In December last year, the nurses who are demanding a 300 percent pay hike, extraneous and other allowances called off a planned strike after the nurses union struck a deal with the government.
“On our side we are in agreement except for a few areas which we are still trying to correct so that it is binding but we are in agreement,” Kodambo had said.