Return to work or be sacked, President warns striking nurses

President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses the nation on February 13, 2019. Photo/PSCU
President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses the nation on February 13, 2019. Photo/PSCU

President Uhuru Kenyatta has ordered nurses across the country to immediately stop their strike and return to work.

The President in his address to the nation on Wednesday morning said the health workers have until 8am on Friday, February 15 to do so.

“As the Commander in Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces, I have instructed National Police Service to take stern action on picketers who may intimidate public servants who intend to go to work,” he warned.

The President further ordered the county government and Health Ministry to dismiss any nurse who fails to report to work.

According to him, the respective county governments will be at liberty to take action as they deem appropriate.

“It is disheartening to learn that some of our nurses have decided to engage in an unlawful withdrawal of their labour to Kenyans against the determination of the Employment and Labour Relations Court which suspended any industrial action for 60 days,” he said.

He further faulted the leadership of the nurses union for not obeying court orders adding that no Kenyan is above the law.

While acknowledging that Kenyans have a right participate in strikes, he however cautioned that there exists a process of determining Public Service remuneration by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) whose advice he said was disregarded by the striking nurses.

Health services in several counties have been disrupted since February 4, 2019 when the nurses downed their tools.

Despite a court order the next day that termed the strike as illegal, the Kenya National Union of Nurses remained adamant that they would not resume their duties.

Labour CS Ukur Yatani had urged the union to call off the strike but his plea fell on deaf ears as nurses sponsored by the national government stayed away from stations for the ninth day.

Nurses stationed at airports as well those from Mathari National Teaching and Referral Hospital and the Kenya National Blood Transfusion Service also joined the strike on Monday.

The health workers have been demanding for allowances and promotions.

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