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Health crisis looms in Kenya over pay

COUNTIES
By KEVINE OMOLLO AND DENNIS ONYANGO | August 26th 2015
Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital. The county government has until September 3 to address medics' grievances to avert a strike. [PHOTO: TITUS MUNALA/STANDARD]

KISUMU: A health crisis is looming after health workers vowed to down their tools next week.

The medics had issued a 21-day strike notice on August 14, meaning the county government has until September 3 to address their grievances.

They are protesting delayed July salaries, shortage of health workers in local hospitals, alleged skewed promotions of nurses and refusal by the county government to permanently employ nurses who have been on contract.

Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) Deputy Secretary General Maurice Odhiambo, who is also the regional branch Secretary General, said they have instructed the health workers not to report to work on September 3.

Mr Odhiambo said attempts by the health workers to seek audience with Governor Jack Ranguma have been futile, prompting them to just wait for the expiry of the strike notice before they down their tools.

“We will not go back to work until all our grievances are addressed. The county government is aware of the challenges we are facing but they are reluctant to do their part,” he said.

He said their working conditions worsened when the health function was devolved, a situation which has impacted negatively on their morale.

“We cannot be expected to deliver if the standard working conditions are not met. If they (county government) understand only the language of strike then we are prepared to do it,” he said.

Health Chief Officer Ojwang Lusi said the county government is working on ways to avert the strike. Dr Lusi said the county government would meet KNUN regional officials on Friday to resolve the stalemate.

He said most of the grievances raised by the health workers have been solved and that the nurses only need to listen to the county government’s side of the story.

“As at now we do not owe the nurses any pending salaries. I can confidently say we have managed to handle 95 per cent of their grievances and we are working hard to ensure that the strike does not happen,” Lusi said.

The official said the confirmation of nurses on contracts was ongoing and that only those who failed to provide their original qualification certificates may miss chances in the ongoing recruitment.

HANDLED AMICABLY

“What the nurses have to understand is that some of the issues raised are under the jurisdiction of the national government and we have made efforts to send our officials to the national government to have the issues handled amicably,” he said.

Last week, two people were reported dead in the neighbouring Siaya County, but the medics have since resumed duty after they agreed on a deal with the county government.

The Siaya medics were also protesting delayed salaries and promotions.

The workers, who were joined by the Union of Civil Servants (UCS) and county government members, demonstrated along the streets of Siaya town last week.

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