Machakos medics call off go-slow after talks with Wavinya

Governor Wavinya Ndeti with the chair of Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union Dr Charles Okumu shake hands after a meeting with Machakos County Health workers regarding their promotion on July 13, 2023. [John Muia, Standard]

Health workers have called off a strike set for today after Governor Wavinya Ndeti worked out a last-minute intervention to avert a crisis.

The healthcare personnel under the umbrella of Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU) suspended their strike to allow the county executive one week to process promotion letters of some 421 employees.

The healthcare workers are also pushing for the promotion of another bunch of 664 officers following an agreement entered into on April 5, 2023, between the county government and the health unions.

Concerned that the medical personnel were not relenting on their threat to down tools, and that a strike by them would trigger a costly crisis, Wavinya hurriedly summoned the unions’ officials to her office.

“The governor called us after she learnt that our earlier meeting with her emissaries who included the county secretary, Health executive and the chairperson of the County Public Service Board ended pre-maturely when we walked out after disagreeing,” said one of the union officials.

The official revealed that the reason they walked out from the initial meeting with the top county government officials was the ‘unacceptable offer’ they were giving to the healthcare workers.

“They had offered to implement the promotions in a phased manner on grounds of huge budget implication but we declined and walked out,” the official said.

The official went on: “When we finally met the governor on Wednesday, she listened to our grievances and committed to ensuring the promotion letters of the 421 staff were processed within a week. So we, therefore, decided to postpone our strike for seven days as we observe the turn of events.” 

Speaking after holding a joint press conference at the governor’s office, the chairman of KMPDU lower Eastern chapter, Charles Okumu confirmed the county government had committed to issue promotion letters for the officers who were due for promotion.

“We have decided as health unions to suspend our strike for seven days because the county government has given us an offer of issuing promotion letters to all healthcare workers that deserve a promotion. The county public service board has also committed to issue promotion letters to bonafide 422 healthcare workers as contained in a submitted list and this must be by Friday or earlier,” said Dr Okumu.

In the deal, the officers due for promotion will have the reviewed earnings reflected on their pay slips effective July 1, 2023, while the perks that were supposed to have been paid since last year shall be implemented in phases for the next six months.

Wavinya decried the sorry state of the county’s schemes of service, saying it was deficient of fair labour practices. “I have established that some county government workers have gone for over seven years without any promotion which means there is no proper scheme of service in place. I want to assure the union and the entire workforce of the county that we are going to have proper schemes of service,” she said.