COTU and nurses reject plans to hire health workers on contract

Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) Secretary General Francis Atwoli with National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) acting Chief Executive Officer Nicodemus Odongo and officials of other trade unions during a joint meeting at the Great Rift Valley  Lodge in Naivasha. [photo courtesy]
The Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) and the Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) have dismissed the proposal by the Council of Governors to employ health workers on a contract basis.

The two associations termed the plan as illegal and constitutional warning Governors that they faced the ‘mother of all battles’ if they implemented the idea.

On Monday, the COG after meeting President Uhuru Kenyatta during the ongoing devolution conference in Kirinyaga County arrived at the decisions.

The council and the CS for Health Cecily Kariuki noted that this would go a long way in reducing the wage bill noting that other workers were also on contract.

But reacting to this, COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli said that they were opposed to casualization of labor.

Speaking in Naivasha, Atwoli termed the proposal as laughable adding that it would not be implemented as it was against the constitution.

“We have heard about the plans to employ health workers by counties on contract and we shall definitely oppose this ill-advised plan,” he said.

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The unionist questioned the decision by the COG with the support from the national government noting that this was unattainable.

“This government is taking this issue casually and we shall stand up and resist any plans to casualization of labor as this standard is not recognized globally,” he said.

On his part, KNUN Secretary General Seith Panyako said that health workers across the country were ready to react if the proposal was endorsed.

He accused the COG of discriminating health workers noting that just like other workers they were entitled to good remuneration and working conditions.

“From the start, we were opposed to the move to devolve health and this is now evident with some governors planning to oppress health workers and we shall not allow this,” he said.

Panyako pointed an accusing finger at Governors Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega) and Mwangi Wa Iria (Murang’a) for the proposal to employ the workers on contract.

“We are aware of plans by the two governors who have formed a company to hire and lease out nurses to counties and other institutions and their plans will fail,” he said.

He added that all unions under the health docket will meet on Saturday where they will issue the way forward regarding the contract issue.

“We are wondering why the COG has decided to in future employ health workers and not police and the army on a contract basis,” he said.

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Central Organization of Trade UnionsSecretary General Francis AtwoliNational Hospital Insurance