NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 13 – Nurses have threatened to strike should the Salaries and Remuneration Commission reduce the number of allowances public servants enjoy.
The Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) said the commission would be acting unconstitutionally if it goes ahead to make any such reductions.
KNUN Deputy General Secretary Maurice Opetu said the allowances they enjoy were negotiated with previous governments and SRC Chairperson Sarah Serem would be acting in bad faith should she slash them.
“Our major concern is on the recommended removal of extraneous allowance for nurses which was negotiated on the basis of their unique nature of duties that expose them to excess physical and mental stress and undefined long hours of work,” he said on Saturday.
Opetu said they are now working on consolidating their efforts with those of other civil servant unions against the SRC decision.
“We’re meeting with other unions from other sectors to make sure we meet Sarah Serem outside there with all the arsenals she wants. This time the government and Serem are going to make Kenyans suffer; they’ll never see any public servant going to work if these recommendations are implemented,” he threatened.
While announcing the SRC decision to consolidate 48 allowances and cut 33 others out of a total of 150 allowances currently enjoyed by civil servants, Serem said they would not be swayed by strike threats.
“As leaders we have to act responsibly. Because it does not matter whether we go to the streets, it does not matter the demands that we make. The bottom line here is will the economy sustain and afford it,” she said on Thursday.
The reconfiguration of the allowance structure, she said, would save the country Sh125 billion annually.
The nurses’ strike threat comes just days after the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) passed a resolution to mobilize a major strike for teachers in January, should the government fail to review their basic pay and allowances upward.
KNUT Secretary General Wilson Sossion accused the SRC of contravening the Constitution by “meddling” in their negotiations with their employer: the Teachers Service Commission (TSC).
Again like the nurses, Sossion said, KNUT was rooting for a public service sector-wide industrial action.
“This is because we are all facing a common enemy: the SRC,” he said in his capacity as the Trade Union Congress General Secretary on Tuesday.