, NAIROBI, Kenya, March 9 – The 25,000 nurses sacked on Thursday have started receiving their termination letters as indicated by Medical Services Minister Anyang’ Nyong’o.
The nurses who defied a government return to work order were still adamant that the government must address their issues.
“We are not even asking about basic pay, but what was agreed with our officials in December must be implemented, we be given equipment and those employed under the Economic Stimulus Package must be absorbed,” said a Mr Maina, a representative of the National Nurses Association of Kenya.
Mbagathi District Hospital Medical Superintendent Andrew Suleh told Capital News on Friday that the strike had affected the hospital where they had now engaged the services of three community health workers to attend to seven patients in the ward.
“The nurses have received their sacking letters as from noon today (Friday). If my nurses come back to work, I will be the first person to appeal to the ministry to rescind the decision,” Suleh said.
“We are not doing surgeries; we are not admitting expectant mothers because these services rely heavily on the nurses and they have not yet come back to work,” he added.
He said at least 150 nurses from the hospital had sack letters for participating in the strike.
However one of the nurses at Mbagathi District Hospital who had received a sack letter complained that she was on leave and did not participate in the strike.
“They are giving even to some of us who were on leave,” she said.
The Medical Superintendent said that such cases would be addressed at the Ministry of Medical Services.
He said the hospital had so far received about 20 job applications but they were yet to receive official communication from the Ministry specifying the details of the recruitment process if any.
Elsewhere, National Nurses Association of Kenya National Secretary Omiah Fredrick urged the striking health workers to be patient as the union tries to engage the government and implore on it to reconsider the decision to sack.
“That is going to even worsen the situation because sacking 25,000 striking workers is not as easy. The health facilities out there are not operational; Kenyans are desperately in need of health services, I think it will be honorable on the governments part to offer these health workers something they can be able to go back home with,” Omiah told Capital News.
“Actually our members are now confused on whether they should go back to work or not and they are saying if they have been sacked, why should they be asked to report back to work,” he added.
He said a solution must be sought on the standoff adding that a seven member to joint consultative team set up to look into the issues the nurses had raised had halted its work following the government sack order.
The nurses went on strike Thursday last week demanding standardisation of extraneous allowances.
They are also demanding call allowance, 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.
Meanwhile, The Parliament’s Committee on Health led by Chairman Robert Monda said it would on Monday intervene if the stand-off will not have been resolved.
“It is not business as usual because these people have had a protracted struggle for a week and all the time they are negotiating, but negotiations for leadership must bear fruits. In this case our fruits are our patients must be assisted in the hospital,” he told a news conference.
Parliament’s Standing Orders allows its Committees to act on their own volition to probe any matter that was under their jurisdiction and make a report to the house.
The Committee was established to handle matters related to health, medical care and health insurance.
Monda said the sack order by the government was reckless and insensitive to the majority of Kenyans who depend on public health institutions for medical care.
The Committee chair said that they would meet with both parties to establish why they had not been able resolve the matter.
“The sacking has simply aggravated the situation, antagonism between the government and workers has only one result; which is, it is the sick who are suffering and it is the sick who are dying,” said Monda.
Committee Member Fred Outa termed the strike as a “national emergency” that should be addressed urgently.
“If you have elected people to speak on your behalf and the outcome turned out to be untrusted, then that is not going to help us solve this problem and we are not going to continue having this tag of war while people are dying in this country,” he said.