KISUMU, Kenya, Sep 24 – Over 100 locum health workers contacted by the Kisumu County downed their tools on Thursday to protest nonpayment of salaries since April.
The 175 health workers who were recruited on locum basis converged at Jomo Kenyatta Sports Ground as they marched to the County Governor’s office seeking redress over salary delays.
Their representative, Kevin Gumba, who spoke to the media on said the health workers were demoralized.
Gumba said the 175 workers received their employment letters in October 2019 but were not engaged until April.
Their terms on employments were subsequently altered by the Kisumu County Public Service Board which notified them they had been listed under the national government Universal Health Coverage (UHC) pilot.
The new contracts slashed the highest pay from Sh90,000 to Sh50,000 per month.
“After our posting, we worked for two months after which they decided now to take us back to UHC,” he said.
Despite the change, Gumba said the health workers have been working some in far flung areas without pay.
He said the workers put a spirited effort to have their salaries paid but attempts to secure payment had always hit a snag.
Gumba said the county administration had differed the payments to September.
“The chairman of the County Public Service Board last time called me as the representative of the 175 healthcare workers and said they will pay us by the end of September,” he said.
The county’s Health Chief Officer in charge of Planning, Strategy and General Administration, Alphonse Ouya, indicated in a letter to medical superintendents September salaries for the 175 workers would be delayed until October.
“This is to inform you that the recently hired officers will not be paid their salaries in September 2020 payroll,” read part of the letter.
Ouya explained that the cancellation of their salaries was caused by new guidelines on payroll management.
He said the matter will be conclusively addressed in the October payroll.
Trea Onyango, one of the affected healthcare workers, said the prolonged delays had negatively impacted her especially given the prevailing hostile economic conditions triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It has not been easy at all, you can imagine with the COVID-19 and the current economy, things have not been easy on us, it has been so tough,” she said.
Like many quit other jobs to work for the county government of Kisumu, Anyango said she regrets leaving her former employment.
“Actually, I regret leaving my previous job, because am sure even if I as working in a private facility by 5th I would be having my salary,” he said.
The health workers later stormed a function at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital where Governor Anyang Nyong’o was presiding over the donation of hospital equipment.
Nyong’o snubbed the health workers. He hurriedly left the venue leaving the workers stranded.