Kisumu County gov’t stops salaries of 428 striking nurses


Kisumu County gov't stops salaries of 428 striking nurses
File Image of nurses in Kisumu County on strike. PHOTO / COURTESY

The crisis surrounding the healthcare sector in Kenya continues to deepen as more health care workers threaten to join striking colleagues to protest poor working conditions.

This even as various counties begin to implement a raft of disciplinary measures against health workers who are on strike for what they term as “absconding duty.”

The disciplinary measures include locking the medics out of their work stations and withholding their pay.

The county governments of Kisumu and Uasin Gishu have started implementing disciplinary measures against the healthcare workers who are on strike, straining an already rocky relationship.

The raft of measures instituted by Prof. Anyang’ Nyong’o’s administration include stopping of salaries for 428 nurses currently on strike and ordering their respective supervisors to deny them access to their work stations.

In a notice issued on Wednesday, Chief Officer in the Kisumu Department of Health and Sanitation Dr. Gregory Ganda indicated that the striking nurses had been withdrawn from the payroll, vowing to recover December 2020 salaries terming the payment as erroneous.

The notice further gave the 428 nurses a 7-day ultimatum to show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken against them, failure to which they’ll be sacked.

In Uasin Gishu County, the government has not only struck the names of striking medics off the payroll but has also threatened to sack them if they do not resume work immediately.

“Those staff that did not want to provide services, we’re already taking action and we have said that we will stop salaries…and if it reaches a time that we need to advertise for those positions, we’re going to do that,” said Dr. Evelyn Rotich, Uasin Gishu Health CEC.

As the crisis deepens, more workers in the sector have joined in the strike, threatening to paralyze operations in health care facilities.

The Kenya National Union of Medical Laboratory Officers (KNUMLO) are the latest in line to demand better pay, medical insurance coverage and better protective equipment among a raft of grievances.

And as if to add salt to injury, the hopes of white smoke in the boardroom talks between the Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) faded on Wednesday after the anticipated meeting failed to materialize as a result of which the ongoing strike continues.

The union issued a strike notice on December 30 last year over failure by the government to address their grievances.

The push and pull between the medics and the government, according to ODM leader Raila Odinga, is shocking at a time when the country just released thousands of learners to schools and when the world is carefully watching the developments around COVID-19. The former premier in his statement said “this is a time we need all the healthcare workers on duty or on standby not on strike or being tossed around between the two levels of governments.”

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Story By Elphas Lagat
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