Health workers in strike threat over unpaid salaries

August 14, 2014 12:38 pm
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Speaking during a press conference Thursday morning, the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU) chairman Victor Ngan'i directed health workers to down their tools to press for the payment/FILE
Speaking during a press conference Thursday morning, the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU) chairman Victor Ngan’i directed health workers to down their tools to press for the payment/FILE
NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 14 – Health workers across all the 47 counties have threatened to go on strike on Monday next week if their salaries are not paid in full by then.

Speaking during a press conference Thursday morning, the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU) chairman Victor Ngan’i directed health workers to down their tools to press for the payment.

He revealed that most health workers have not been paid for more than two months and indicated that many of them were being harassed by officials of county governments.

“For the last eight months, health workers in this country have borne immeasurable challenges from the county governments. We have patiently borne incessant delayed salaries. Every end of the month, unless officials leave their stations to go and find out how workers will be paid, it will not be done. Today as we speak before you, many workers have not received payments for the month of June,” he stated.

“Issues of pay and promotion are not good for health in this country. When we have a highly politicised and ethnicised structure, it is not good for progressive health delivery. For every Ebola outbreak, health workers must die everywhere. We are asking people to make such a huge sacrifice and then we treat them as the most useless people on the earth.”

“Today as we speak more than 50 percent of the health workers have not been paid five months down the line. We have been patient as health workers, we have given the county governments a chance and they have had devolution for a whole year. They told us back in December that they are ready. Now we want them to put that readiness to action,” he stated.

His sentiments were echoed by the Kenya National Union of Nurses Secretary General Seth Panyako who emphasised the need for the setting up of a health service commission whose role will be to organise the human resource aspect of the health sector.

“The level of preparedness in the country is not there. The only hospital we have seen is prepared is the Kenyatta National Hospital and it is under the National government, because, they have been paid their salaries and the hospital has a direct budget from the government. When you look at the Busia District Hospital, the situation is different and the workers have not even been paid despite them working hard,” he stated.

Nurses in the country threatened to down their tools last months in a bid to compel the government to give them better perks by signing a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

The nurses, through their umbrella body said that they were enraged by Attorney General Githu Muigai’s move to “give wrong advice to the Government” against signing the CBA.

Panyako said the Government had unconstitutionally shifted the responsibility of signing the CBA to county governments.

Explaining that the health sector was not a fully devolved function, the secretary general accused the government of conspiring to lock out major stakeholders in the nursing fraternity by avoiding the CBA.

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