NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 1 – Nurses at Kenyatta National Hospital and three other institutions in Nyanza on Thursday ignored a nationwide strike called by the Union of Kenya Civil Servants to demand better pay.,
Those who rejected the strike call were nurses from New Nyanza, Kisumu and Homa Bay District hospitals.
Earlier on Thursday, the Union of Kenya Civil Servants, the Kenya Health Professional Society (KHPS), the Kenya Union of Domestic Hotels, Educational Institutions, Hospitals and Allied Workers (KEDHEIHA) and other unions representing health workers held a meeting at Uhuru Park where they declared the strike was on.
The Secretary General of the Union of Kenya Civil Servants (Nairobi Branch) William Ochieng said they would not relent until the government met their demands.
“From Kenyatta National hospital, we will move to the Ministry of Health headquarters, Afya house then thereafter with the assistance of our Secretary General we will go to Parliament. I believe those are key areas that we have to convey a message which must be loud and clear,” Ochieng said at Uhuru Park.
The later proceeded to Parliament buildings where Dujis MP Adan Duale told them to write a petition which he would present to other legislators.
In Kisumu, nurses who spoke to Capital News at the New Nyanza Provincial hospital said that they were not ready to participate in a strike that had been declared illegal.
On Wednesday, KHPS and KUDHEIHA were served with a court order restraining them from proceeding with the strike. The order included restrictions against engaging in any activity that could jeopardise the dispensation of health care service at public health facilities.
“The intention of health workers is not to make people suffer but the most important thing above it all is that the employer should have ears to hear,” Ochieng told striking nurses who had gathered at Uhuru Park.
At the Kisumu and Homa Bay District Hospitals, services were rendered normally.
But at the newly opened Mama Lucy district hospital in Kayole, operations were paralysed as nurses took part in the strike.
“I had brought my wife for treatment but we have been told there are no services being offered. We will now go to a private hospital,” said one of the patients who was turned away.
“I had come for clinic (ante-natal) but I have been told it’s closed,” said another frustrated patient.
However, doctors were available although they could not offer service without nurses and other support staff.
At the Nyeri Provincial General Hospital, the nurses downed their tools leaving patients stranded.
This was reciprocated at the Coast Provincial General Hospital where nurses were idling outside the hospital compound as patients were turned away.
Health workers at Wesu District Hospital and Wundanyi Sub-District hospital in Taita Taveta County also joined in the strike.
The Medical Superintendent at Wesu District Hospital Mwaleso Kishindo was not available for comment and the District Medical Officer of Health Charles Ndigirigi was said to be out of office.
“I have visited all the health facilities in the area and the workers have downed tools. We’ll continue with the strike until our demands are met,” said Rophus Mwainge, The Union of Kenya Civil Servants Coast Branch Secretary.
“It is regrettable that the government should renege on an agreement reached with its workers, particularly on issues critical to their well-being. The issues in contention include extraneous allowances, risk allowance, internship and house allowance,” said the union boss.
In December last year, the nurses who are demanding a 300 percent pay hike called off a planned strike after the Kenya Health Professional Society 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,” KHPS National Chairman Luke Kodambo had said.