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Health workers issue 21-day strike ultimatum

Nurses take to the street in the past demanding better scheme of services/FILE

Nurses take to the street in the past demanding better scheme of services/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 5 – Health workers on Tuesday issued a 21-day strike notice, accusing the government of failing to deliver its promise of creating a Health Service Commission that will monitor the implementation of devolution of their services.

Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) Chairman Jophinus Musundi explained that health workers will down tools unless the government urgently stops the ongoing devolution of health services.

“The Health Bill has not been passed by Parliament nor enacted, meaning that there is no legislation as required by the County Governments Act 2012.”

“Definition of National Referral Hospitals versus County Health Facilities does not exist; Transitional Authority has no mandate to define this facilities as is the case currently,” explained Musundi.

Musundi told a media conference; “We agreed with the government that as stated in the County Governments Act 2012 workers are to be seconded and not transferred as we are currently seeing.”

He added that employees are not being given an opportunity to choose or accept the new employment terms and are instead receiving letters of transfer notices.

“With no consultation, workers get transferred to new work stations and some opt to resign rather than go to the news stations,” he said.

Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacist and Dentist Union (KMPDU) Secretary General Sultan Matendechero explained that some health workers have had their salaries drastically reduces after they went to the county work stations.

“We want it made clear why some health workers at the counties have had their salaries reduced yet the services, operations and payments have been devolved to the counties.”

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“Who should they report this matter to?” Matendechero asked.

Matendechero added that no consultation was undertaken by the National Government before they make decisions regarding the workers.

“No consultation of Unions and Association in the implementation process meaning that the public-stakeholder participation has been overlooked in contravention of the constitution,” he said.

The officials further demanded for the immediate halt of the health policy and enactment of the Health Bill to allow adequate stakeholder consultation.

In July, the nurses threatened to strike claiming that the government needed to employ more health workers to help ease the workload of those overwhelmed in hospitals.

In the strike notice, KNUN Secretary General Seth Panyako demanded the government employs 40,000 maternity nurses as well as abolish all contracts involving nurses and absorb them.

“We want the government to discard the proposed Ministry of Health administration organization structure and implement the proposed organizational structure for health services,” he said.

The union also wants the government to immediately release union dues.

“We also want the finalization of scheme of services for nurses and implementation of final draft,” he demanded.

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He added that the government must also put in place mechanisms to ensure changes to the Constitution through Amendment Bill 2013 to establish the Health Service Commission.

“The government should also reverse the transfer of personal emoluments for nurses and other health workers,” he demanded.

He said that the government should also complete negotiations of Comprehensive Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with KNUN.

Panyako however revealed that the government has called for negotiations on July 25, a day before the end of the strike notice.

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