NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 19 – The Trade Unions Congress of Kenya (TUC-K) has now issued a seven-day strike notice for the government to revoke the gazette notice that brought the new National Hospital Insurance Funds Rates into force.
Deputy General Secretary Charles Mukhwaya told Capital FM News that the government should also refund monies deducted from workers pay from April when the new rates came into force.
He pointed out that should this not happen by July 1, the union will call on all its members to down their tools.
“We want the government to reverse the controversial gazette that increased those NHIF rates. We also want a refund to be given to all workers whose salaries have been deducted following the implementation of the new rates,” he stated. “Should this not happen by July 1, we will advise our workers to go on strike.”
The new NHIF rates were gazetted on February 6 and saw workers pay higher contributions from April 1.
Employees earning a maximum of Sh5,999 will contribute Sh150 per month to the national health insurer while those who take home over Sh100,000 per month will part with Sh1,700.
In a legal notice signed by NHIF Chief Executive Officer Simeon ole Kirgotty and Chairman Mohamud Mohamed Ali also requires self-employed Kenyans to contribute Sh500 to the fund.
Plans to introduce the new rates in the past had been met with opposition from workers and at one time the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) went to court but later agreed to drop the case after negotiations.
The negotiations between COTU and NHIF saw the workers’ contribution put at between Sh150 and Sh1,700 per month.
The proposed deductions were further delayed by talks between employers and unions, led by the Trade Unions Congress of Kenya.
The unions had said they would accept the new rates only if the monthly deductions were computed based on a percentage rating so that low-income earners are not overburdened.
Besides the computation, the unions have also demanded to be represented on the NHIF board together with a representative from the Union of Kenya Civil Servants.