Reprieve as nurses call off strike

December 2, 2011 1:03 pm

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 2 – The union representing Kenyan nurses has called off a strike scheduled for December 7 after they struck a deal with the government.

The Kenya Health Professional Society (KHPS) National Chairman Luke Kodambo said on Friday that they had reached some agreement on some of their demands and that they will allow for more time for negotiations to continue.

But the news was not an overall reprieve for Kenyans as doctors maintained that they would not report to work from Monday, December 5. Talks between the government and the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union were yet to bear fruit.

While calling off the nurses strike, Kodambo noted a shortage of human resource, old and dilapidated infrastructure and inadequate funding as among the challenges which hinder provision of quality healthcare in the country.

“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,” he said.

“The documents are there and what has delayed us here is some corrections which need to be made.”

Medical Services Permanent Secretary Mary Ngari expressed hope that the talks will bear fruit conclusively.

“We have agreed on some allowances especially the uniform allowances,” which she said would continue to be paid with the monthly salaries as opposed to nurses being issued with ready-made uniforms.

“We have also agreed on the issue of hardship allowance among other things and we have even structured out guidelines for the entire civil service.”

Nurses countrywide had threatened to go on strike from December 7 if the government failed to heed their call for a pay increment and improved working conditions.

They were demanding a 300 percent pay hike, and hiring of more health personnel to meet the country’s surging population and increased health needs.

The strike notice had been issued by the Kenya Health Professionals Association, which is an umbrella body of 16 health workers unions.

The association had also called on the government to improve the work environment at all health levels.

A start up nurse who holds a certificate earns Sh16,000 per month, while a diploma holder earns Sh18,000, figures that the health personnel are decrying as too low.

The group had further called on the government to equip health facilities and improve supplies to enable them effect their operations.

It had termed government allowances of Sh3,000 accorded them as a mockery, and called on the relevant ministries to raise the figures.

While calling on the government to beef up security, Kodambo decried the neglected state of hospitals, which he said has continuously exposed workers and patients to dangers.


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