Nurses vow to continue with strike, decry biased treatment compared to doctors


Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) Secretary General Seth Panyako. PHOTO| COURTESY
Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) Secretary General Seth Panyako during a past press address. PHOTO| FILE

The Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) is demanding that the government recommits to talks to end their ongoing strike that has now lasted 20 days.

The union is decrying what officials say is biased treatment compared to what the doctors have been accorded.

With the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) having signed their return to work formula on Thursday, and Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe and his Labour counterpart Simon Chelugui indicating that they are open to any deliberations touching on matters healthcare, KNUN however now asserts that this is far from the truth.

“Seven days from now, if the strike is not resolved, Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) will be joining the strike,” said KNUN Secretary General Seth Panyako in a presser on Saturday.

The union wants the government to address their issues, among them a harmonised risk allowance and comprehensive medical cover.

“There is no politics in seeing our colleagues dying…there is no politics in seeing our colleagues on oxygen,” said Maurice Opetu, KNUN Deputy Secretary General.

Panyako added: “The business of thinking that nurses are subordinate staff to the doctors…forget it from today.”

At least 34 nurses have died since the pandemic began, KNUN indicating that four among them died from work-related frustrations.

Kenyans have since also indicated that they are feeling the impact of the nurses and clinical officers’ strike at the hospitals.

In a press statement issued to newsrooms, the Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (KUCO) said that their employers have become hostile refusing to sit with the union.

However, they welcomed communication by CS Chelugui on the resumption of a multi-agency committee that had stopped, so as to expedite negotiations to end the stalemate.

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Story By Raquel Muigai
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