, NAIROBI, Kenya, June 7 – The Council of Governors is set to register a trade dispute with the Ministry of East African Community, Labour and Social Protection on Wednesday as a result of what it terms as its inability to register the draft 2017-2021 nurses’ Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
In a letter to the Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) on Tuesday, CoG Chief Executive Officer Jacqueline Mogeni said the council had taken the decision since it was unable to secure a “no objection letter” from the Salaries and Remunerations Commission (SRC).
“You are aware that without approval from the SRC the negotiation process would not be complete and the document would be unregistrable,” read the letter addressed to KNUN Acting Secretary General Maurice Opetu who declared the ongoing strike Sunday.
CoG further cited a letter from the SRC “indicating that the commission is constrained to issue a ‘no objection letter’, ” with regards to the draft CBA forwarded to it by governors.
On Tuesday, the SRC Chairperson Sarah Serem however came clean on accusations that the commission was to blame for the ongoing strike owing to its failure to approve the negotiated document.
Serem told the press at the commission offices in Nairobi that her team had provided all the requisite guidelines both to KNUN and the council to ensure the CBA is crafted within the parameters set by the salary agency.
“Despite all its efforts since February 2017, to ensure the CBA is concluded within the shortest time possible, this has not been achieved. It is regrettable that the blame in honouring the CBA is being placed on the doorsteps of SRC,” she said.
“SRC provided further guidance on 27th March 2017 where we asked the employing agency to ensure that the CBA is negotiated within the parameters provided and that they should provide evidence of budgetary allocation from either internally generated funds of allocation from the National Treasury for the implementation of the proposed reviews on the financial items of the CBA,” she added.
In an interesting turn of events however, Serem indicated that the CoG had in its interactions with the commission since Monday indicated that the CBA was erroneous.
“I have in the last 24 hours engaged with CoG and they have committed and actually agreed that the whole process of the CBA was an error bearing in mind that whatever the negotiating team came up with was not approved by the CoG itself and it is something that they (governors) are yet to interrogate, “Serem said Tuesday.
The statement by SRC has awakened questions on the commitment by governors to reach a deal with nurses by March as agreed in the 15 December 2016 accord mediated by Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu which committed that parties will commence negotiations in January.
Speaking to members of the media at the council offices in Nairobi on Monday, CoG Chairperson Josphat Nanok came short of disowning the deal while suggesting that the amount required to implement it – 40.3 billion – was mind-boggling.
“The amount would require a huge adjustment of budgets of both National and County Governments to cater for it. However, the government is still in talks with the union to come with an amicable solution,” he said accompanied by Kisii Governor James Ongwae and Health Principal Secretary Julius Korir.
The Labour Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie will be holding a meeting with nurses union officials and those drawn from the CoG to try and find an amicable solution.
So far, six people have been reported dead at the Coast General Hospital in Mombasa alone with fears that the fatalities figures could be higher. The Ministry of Health is yet to give official figures on the fatalities nationwide.