NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 4- Nurses in the country are threatening to go on strike in two weeks time unless the government issues their union with a registration certificate.
Led by the National Nurses Association chairman Jeremiah Maina, the nurses said lack of proper registration for the union has hindered their operations because they are unable to voice their grievances to the government.
Addressing a press conference in Nairobi on Sunday, Maina announced that there is a shortfall of 50,000 nurses in the country yet those in employment continue to be overworked.
“We have our members whom the government recruited through the Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP), and had even started giving them some allowances. But the allowance was later taken away without notice,” Maina complained.
“The Minister (of Finance) was categorical that they were going to employ 5000 nurses starting July this year. We are in November and have not seen anything,” he said.
They want the government to put in place mechanisms to absorb all the qualifying nurses to avert what they termed as a “humanitarian crisis” in the health sector.
“Why should a qualified nurse wait for five months before he even gets an attachment in any government hospital,” he posed.
They demanded implementation of a report from a taskforce that was formed in March to address nurses’ grievances—including poor working conditions in public hospitals.
“We have our colleagues in the private sector who have survived on contracts for years, with no good working terms because we do not have a nurses union. Nurses are very important in this country, and if anyone doubts this, let nurses get out of any hospital and we will see how they will operate,” Maina said.
The association is also concerned that the government has been deploying community health workers in some health centers to treat patients yet they are not qualified.
“The affected area is in the reproductive health. The community health workers are the ones doing this in some of the hospitals, yet we are trained on reproductive health for 6 months after we clear our three year nursing course. How do you tell me then that someone will learn this for two weeks,” they complained.
They have also called on the government to finalize the Collective Bargaining Agreement as per the salaries and remuneration commission’s guidelines.
Other grievances they want addressed include implementation of various circulars to ensure succession planning, re-designations and promotions and appointment of nurses in various administrative positions with clear job descriptions.
“We want recruitment of a Director of Nursing to represent nurses at the Policy levels adding that poor representation at the top level has also led to their complains ignored,” they said.