Resolve issues or we'll down tools, nurses threaten

Tharaka Nithi Kenya National Union of Nurses Tharaka Nithi Chairman Fabian Marigu addressing Journalist at Chuka hospital on Monday 24. He gave a two week ultimatum for the county to address their grievances failure to which they will hold an industrial action. [PHOTO:KEVIN NGAI/STANDARD]

Nurses have threatened to go on strike if the county government does not resolve their grievances in two weeks.

The latest threat comes after a strike notice they had issued earlier expired yesterday.

Speaking to the press after a consultative meeting with health officials in the county, Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) branch chairman Fabian Marigu said the county government had a tendency of waiting until they went on strike before they addressed their concerns.

The union's concerns include non-payment of salaries for some members, timely payment, harmonisation of allowances, and promotion and re-designation of deserving members.

The official said 133 health workers had been struck off the payroll for after they were described as ghost workers.

Last week, Governor Samuel Ragwa announced that 300 ghost workers had been struck off the payroll.

"Someone has been working for the national government for 10 years but when he comes to work in Tharaka Nithi, he is termed a ghost worker," he said.

The union also claimed that some nurses had been transferred unlawfully.

Mr Marigu added that the government should promptly remit statutory deductions such the National Health Insurance Fund and loan deductions to avoid penalties.

He said a member of the union was being held at St Onsolla Hospital in Meru for failing to clear hospital bills.

"We have organised a fundraiser to help one of us foot medical bills at St Onsolla Hospital. If the county had remitted NHIF deductions, we would not have such a situation," he said.

He urged members to prepare to boycott work on November 7 if their demands are not addressed conclusively by then.

County Health Chief Officer Walter Mugambi said the national government had agreed to take the backlog of promoting workers absorbed by the county government in 2013. He said the county had promoted 84 health workers since it took office in 2013.

"The national government has agreed to take the backlog and has set aside Sh17.8 million to promote health workers who joined the county in 2013," he said.

In a letter signed by the union's National Secretary, Seth Panyako, two weeks ago, the union demands to know why salaries for some members were stopped without notice.