, NAIROBI, Kenya, July 2 – A planned protest by the Trade Unions Congress of Kenya (TUC-K) over the new National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) rates failed to kick off on Thursday morning with most workers reporting to their respective work places.
Workers were to assemble at the organisation’s headquarters in Nairobi before holding demonstrations on the streets.
Less than 30 people turned up and waited for more than three hours before the deputy General Secretary Charles Mukhwaya addressed journalists claiming the sit-in it was successful.
“We have just come from the field and out there where our members are, the operations have been paralysed. As we are speaking right now, workers within the universities are out. As we are speaking, the civil servants wherever they are out are demanding for their rights,” he said.
Only port workers in Mombasa seem to have taken the matter seriously, paralysing operations since Wednesday.
“Our members down in Mombasa in the KPA have paralysed their operations and we are telling the government that as we move ahead and as the strike picks up, if this is what they want, that we stop all operations and paralyse all the services, then we are going to give them the very best that the government has seen,” he stated.
TUC-Kenya had said it will paralyse the public service over the government’s failure to revoke the new National Hospital Insurance Fund rates.
The Dock Workers Union was the first to make good the threat and paralysed operations at the Port of Mombasa when they downed their tools.
Public school teachers, university lecturers and non-teaching staff as well as other civil servants affiliated with the TUC Kenya were called upon by their union leaders to stand in solidarity with the dock workers and commence protesting the new NHIF rates on Thursday morning.
Other than the Dock Workers Union, KNUT and UKCS, other unions affiliated with TUC Kenya are the Kenya Universities Staff Union (KUSU), Universities Academic Staff Union (UASU), the Kenya Union of Employees of Polytechnic Colleges (KUEPC) and the Kenya National Union of Service Employees (KNUSE).
The unions said they would only call off their general strike when the NHIF board revoked the rates it gazetted in February and implemented in April; reinstating the previous Sh320 deduction. They also demanded a refund of any and all amounts above that, already deducted from their members in the months of April, May and June.
The congress said they would also need to see a significant improvement in public health before again considering paying more in NHIF contributions.
The new rates are graduated between Sh150 for those who earn less than Sh6,000 and Sh1,700 for those with a gross income above Sh100,000.