NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 30 – The Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) Secretary General Seth Panyako spent the night in police cells over claims of inciting health workers at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) to go on strike.
Panyako was arrested Monday morning at the institution where he was set to address members following a disagreement over union registration.
According to Panyako, the strike was a result of a dispute by the hospital management, “which does not want the nurses to join the Kenya National Union of Nurses, because they are already members of another union.”
There were chaotic scenes at the hospital that led to his arrest in what has fueled tensions even further, leading to the deployment of security forces.
Panyako was arrested alongside other officials accused of instigating the protests that paralysed services at the health facility.
Through a statement, the Hospital’s acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Thomas Mutie however stated that the medics need to comply with the law regarding recognition of the trade union.
“KNH management wishes to reiterte its commitment to ensuring fair labour practices and compliance with law.
However, the Hospital shall not burge to calls, instigations or incitement of its employees to take part in illegal meetings with the sole purpose of advancing courses that disrupts essential services as offered by the Hospital,” he said.
He stated that while the institution recognizes the rights of every employee to freedom of association such activities must be carried out within the confines of the law.
“To enforce its recognition, KNUN instituted a dispute against the Hospital to the Employment and Labour Relations.
However, the Court dismissed the case for reason that Union had not proved that it had more than a simple majority to warrant recognition,” he stated.