NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 5 – The Council of Governors Monday reiterated its commitment to signing a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) despite nurses commencing their strike.
Council Chairperson Josphat Nanok told the press at the CoG headquarters that a draft CBA that “proposes Sh40.3 billion over and above what was approved in the return-to-work formula which is Sh3.4 billion for every financial year” between 2017 to 2021, had already been concluded.
According to Nanok, the National and Country Governments are in the process of seeking approval from the Salaries and Remuneration Commission to ensure the pact conforms to guidelines set by SRC before it is signed.
“The Government (County and National) is following due process to ensure the CBA is signed and that it shall not have any legal challenges in the registration process,” the newly inaugurated governors’ chief said at council’s offices at Delta House, Westlands.
He however said the Sh40.3 billion proposed in the CBA was untenable, urging the nurses to abandon their strike as the CoG seeks to resolve the issue.
“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.
He noted that the county administrations as well as the Central Government had provided for allowances agreed in the return-to-work formula on December 15, at a cost of Sh3.4 billion for every financial year between 2017 and 2021.
The statement by CoG however comes against the backdrop of go-slows by nurses countrywide as some of the health workers start making good their threat to strike.
In Mombasa County, patients at the Coast General Hospital – the largest referral facility in the coast region – were turned away as nurses kept off work.
A spot-check by Capital FM News at the coastal city revealed that patients remained unattended to with some being issued with discharge notes.
KNUN’s Mombasa branch Secretary General Peter Maroko told Capital FM News on Monday that the strike meant to commence at midnight Sunday will proceed if the CBA is not signed.
“There’re no services that are going to be rendered by nurses and therefore we advice that patients seek alternative hospitals because we would not wish them to be admitted and they are not being attended to,” Maroko said.
Maroko who appeared to be reading from the same script as the National Acting Secretary General Morris Opetu who announced the strike on Sunday said the union was disappointed that the issues raised by KNUN were yet to be addressed despite having agreed to call off an initial nine-day strike in December last year following the intervention of the Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu.
While sealing the deal between counties and the union in December, it was agreed that the parties will start negotiating a harmonised CBA on January 1, 2017 as the government committed to paying nurses enhanced allowance.
Under the accord, nursing allowances were increased to Sh20,000 for nurses in Job Groups G to L and Sh15,000 for Job Groups M and above.
The monthly increase was expected to be paid in two tranches in the ratio of 60:40 with the first amount of 60 per cent payable by January 1.
The nurses union however accused county governments on several occasions over what it said were attempts to hoard monies already released by the National Government, an issue that was later resolved.
The new elephant in the room now is the signing of the draft 2017-2021 CBA whose implementation hangs in the balance pending approval by SRC and signing by the county governments.