You’re fired! Striking nurses told

Kenyatta National Hospital, Kenya's largest referral facility/ FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 6 – The government has said that nurses and other health workers who did not resume work by the close of business on Tuesday should consider themselves fired.

This was after Medical Services Minister Anyang’ Nyong’o issued a two-hour return-to-work ultimatum, insisting that positions for those who failed to show up at their work places by 2pm would be immediately advertised.

“We made a decision on Sunday and the leaders told them to go back to work and we set up a structure for discussion. So, if somebody is still going on the streets and saying they are not going back there is something wrong with their head,” the minister said.

“It’s not my mistake. I am just saying please let’s have some order… let’s give dialogue a chance, don’t try and go out of the scheme of things,” he added.

The health workers on Monday defied a return-to-work deal struck the previous night by their union representatives and the government. They said all the issues they had raised had been ignored and nothing tangible was offered.

Nyong’o however said they would on Wednesday begin a meeting with the seven-member joint consultative team set up during the Sunday negotiations to look into the issues the nurses had raised.

He said the health workers were receiving extraneous allowance since December last year totalling Sh4.6 billion per year.

Clinical officers and nurses in urban areas get Sh15,000 per month in extraneous allowance while those in rural and hardship areas get Sh20,000 and Sh25,000 respectively.

The nurses were opposed to the categorisation of the health workers by cadres in giving the extraneous allowance.

The government has also offered that with effect from July this year, the nurses would receive a call allowance of Sh5,000 each per month.

Other demands the health workers had made were private practice allowance, payment of interns, risk allowance, promotions,

re-designation for certificate holders who have acquired diplomas, review of schemes of service, uniform allowance for nurses and nutritionists.

“These are issues that have been raised. We are quite prepared to discuss them but they are no ground for somebody to go on strike because you can’t raise an issue today and say tomorrow you must make a decision. Even if your wife tells you that you must go for a holiday to Mombasa, you don’t make that decision today because you may not have the money,” Nyong’o 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.