NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 29 – Nurses at the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) will not join in a strike called for Monday.
They united with the Kenya Progressive Nurses Association (KPNA) which was part of calling the strike, but has since beaten a retreat.
“Kenyans have been subjected to so many strikes this year and therefore to ask our nurses to down their tools now is ill-advised and untimely.”
Kenyatta Hospital nurses’ representative Alfred Obuya Obengo agreed with the KPNA saying not all avenues for negotiation had been exhausted and added they had not been consulted before notice for the strike was given.
“We support any strategy and movement to fight for nurses rights but we add that as we pursue the above, due process of the law should be followed. We are also saying that KNH nurses were not sufficiently consulted and involved in calling for the so called strike.”
The Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN), the National Nurses Association of Kenya (NNK) and KPNA Sunday called for the industrial action demanding the government register KNUN, increase their allowances, hire more nurses to serve in the public sector and permanently employ nurses on contract.
Grievances Obengo acknowledged as genuine.
“People have stagnated in their jobs for more than even 10 years.”
Kenyatta National Hospital Chief Executive Officer Richard Lesiyampe conceded that the nurses working conditions were less than ideal following a meeting on Thursday morning with the hospital’s nurses’ representatives but added that a strike was not the way to go.
“The demands stated in the strike notice are issues that cannot be attained in an environment of acrimony, strike or industrial action.”
Lesiyampe assured his nurses that their salaries would be reviewed in the coming financial year given the hospital’s parastatal status had been moved up from 3C to a 7A.
“We have already engaged our ministry and treasury in harmonising the salaries of our staff and we have already gotten an approval.”
He added that more nurses would also be added to the hospital’s current 1,400 to bridge the current shortfall.
“We have gone ahead to recruit another 100 nurses who will be reporting in January.”
On the registration of KNUN, Lesiyampe said he was powerless to institute it.
“We wish to advice the officials of the union to continue pursuing dialogue with the Ministry of Labour and to follow legal process to ensure any conflict is constructively resolved.”
Promotions and the re-designation of staff he said would be handled over the course of time.
A strike by the nurses, Lesiyampe acknowledged, would be disastrous especially with increased road accidents over the festive season and being one of two referral hospitals in the country, the hospital’s management is keen on keeping them happy.
“A strike would be catastrophic. I wouldn’t even want to fathom the consequences of it.”
Obengo assured Lesiyampe not worry because a nurses strike would not be in the offing in the near future.
“NNK which is also purporting to be supporting that strike has branches actually which are not even going to go on strike. So we are actually appealing to the leadership that you cannot go to war a divided house.”