, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 17 – Workers at the Kenyatta National Hospital have called off a strike that had paralysed operations at the institution on Wednesday morning.
The strike was called off after the government agreed to release Sh30 million on Wednesday afternoon to pay part of the salary arrears owed to workers, according to the hospital’s Chief Executive Officer Dr Jotham Micheni.
Addressing a joint press conference with the union officials, Dr Micheni said the balance of Sh68 million would be paid in a month’s time.
Thousands of unionisable workers at the hospital had earlier in the day gone on strike over the salary deal struck in a Collective Bargaining Agreement of 2007.
“The hospital management was to address the workers direct on Monday, they have called us (officials) for a meeting, tried to intimidate us and there is nothing they have told us of importance. The Chief Executive Officer has stormed out of the meeting and left us there but we will not relent until we get our money,” a union official at the hospital, Seth Panyako, had said.
Addressing the striking workers outside the referral hospital amidst chants of “Tunataka pesa” (we want our money), Mr Panyako had said the over 3,000 nurses and support staff would not go back to work until their grievances were addressed.
Last year the workers had threatened to go on strike over a Sh292 million seven months salary arrears.
The strike was called off after the government agreed to pay the debt in three monthly installment.
The hospital is said to have about 4,500 workers out of whom 3,000 are unionisable.
According to the KNH website, the referral hospital was established in 1901 and now has 50 wards, 22 out-patient clinics, 24 theatres (16 specialised) and Accident & Emergency Department.
It has a total bed capacity of 1,800 out of which 209 are in the Private Wing.
At any given day, the hospital hosts in its wards between 2,500 and 3,000 patients. On average, the Hospital caters for over 80,000 in-patients and over 500,000 out-patients annually.