Health services paralysed as nurses strike kicks off

File image of nurses on strike. PHOTO| COURTESY
File image of nurses on strike. PHOTO| COURTESY

The country is staring at a health crisis as nurses in 11 counties on Monday morning downed their tools over allowances that are yet to be implemented by the respective county governments.

This follows the expiry of their notice issued to various county governments and the national government in December last year demanding fulfillment of their negotiated Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) Secretary General Seth Panyako on Monday morning confirmed that nurses in 11 counties had downed their tools.

“The strike is on in all 11 counties as we had said earlier and it is very successful,” said Panyako, speaking in a phone interview on Citizen TV’s Day Break show.

He insisted that nurses in the affected counties have raised varying demands which have to be addressed before the industrial action is called off.

“The strike notices were addressed to each county government. Apart from the return-to-work agreement there are other grievances raised by officials on the ground. Whatever is raised in specific strike notices should be addressed by the respective county government,” said Panyako.

The nurses union boss cited Nairobi County for instance where nurses are protesting lack of promotions for the last six years in addition to the return-to-work agreement.

According to Panyako, in Kisumu County, nurses have only one issue on the table — fulfillment of the return-to-work agreement.

“Once those issues are resolved and money is paid, they will be going back to work,” he added.

Despite the appointment of a conciliator, nurses maintain they will note entertain any negotiation and reconciliation meetings by the Ministry of Labour and Council of Governors.

“I have sent a strong team of four to that meeting and we are are going to tell them one thing, ‘address our issues and we will go back to work.’ For those who are not on strike, at the end of the month they will be joining the rest,” said Panyako.

The strike will affect Nairobi, Kisumu, Homa Bay, Muranga, Kisii, Embu, Kiambu, Garissa, Elgeyo Marakwet, Kirinyaga, Marsabit, Nyandarua and Nyeri.

Others are Samburu, Elgeyo Marakwet, Trans Nzoia, Tharaka Nithi, West Pokot, Kitui, Wajir, Kwale, Mandera and Taita Taveta.

Only three counties Machakos, Mombasa and Migori will not be affected by the strike as the respective counties have already implemented the return to work formula and paid the nurses all the allowances.

Panyako says 21 other counties have shown interest in fulfilling the CBA but has warned that they will also join their counterparts should the respective counties fail to honor their pledges.

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Story By Benjamin Muriuki
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