Media interview earns union man the sack

January 10, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 10 – A union official at the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) has been sacked for giving an interview to Capital News mid last year over a row on overtime allowances and corruption allegations at the health facility.

Mr Seth Panyako who was the chief shop steward and Works Committee Spokesperson was dismissed from service on Tuesday last week for "gross misconduct and loss of trust."

He was accused of "holding a media brief with Capital FM without the express authority of Chief Executive Officer as stipulated in hospital terms and conditions of service."

"In view of the above and considering the seriousness of the offence, it has been resolved that you should be and are hereby dismissed from service with effect from January 4, 2011," the unsigned dismissal letter states in part.

At the time Mr Panyako gave Capital News the interview, he spoke in his capacity as an authorised union official and went public following the standoff between the hospital staff and management.

"You are therefore deemed to have conducted yourself in an unacceptable manner and also to have put the image of the hospital into ridicule and disrepute. Accordingly, your continued retention in the service is no longer in the interest of the hospital," the dismissal letter goes on to say.

The standoff had occasioned a go-slow at the hospital that led to the then Medical Services Permanent Secretary Professor James ole Kiyiapi to make an impromptu visit at the institution and promised reforms.

Mr Panyako was initially interdicted in June last year over the interview during which period he was entitled to half pay, house, outpatient, inpatient and transport allowances.

The Central Organisation of Trade Unions has threatened to take KNH to court if they do not reinstate the chief shop steward.

Secretary General Francis Atwoli was quoted by the Standard terming the sacking unlawful and called on the hospital to rescind the action or face the union in court.

"The Constitution, especially the Bill of Rights allows workers to have administrative action that is expeditious, efficient and lawful. What the worker did was within his rights as a worker and a citizen of this country," said Atwoli who argued that Mr Panyako is a spokesman of the workers on their grievances.

"Through him, better relations could be established between employers and workers. He is the union man and was in close contact with the workers who had grievances which the hospital was not addressing," said Mr Atwoli.

Workers at the hospital have had a protracted row with the management and government mainly over poor pay and corruption allegations at the hospital which has led to the staff downing their tools on several occasions.


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