1,200 striking Kenyan nurses ordered to resume duty or face the sack

Desperate patients at Nakuru Level 5 hospital. The patients claimed they are not receiving medical care because of the on going nurses strike in the county. (PHOTO: MERCY KAHENDA/ STANDARD)
Striking nurses in the county will be sacked if they do not resume duty by Sunday, Health Executive Mungai Kabii has warned.

Dr Kabii said the 1,200 employees who are members of the Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) have been served with court orders restraining them from participating in the ongoing strike.

"The governor said clearly during the county end-year party held on Friday that nurses who fail to report on duty by December 25 will all be sacked because they are in contempt of court," said Kabii.

However, the union officials said they had not received the order or any official communication from the county government.

Speaking on behalf of the nurses, the union's Industrial Labour Officer David Omulama said negotiations failed on Friday after the county demanded the union to call off the strike before substantive talks begin.

Mr Omulama said during a meeting chaired by Kabii, the county was requested to produce a list of health employees who have been promoted but failed.

"The county is not willing to find a quick solution to end the strike because once on the negotiation table, they said they can only commence negotiations if the union called off the strike," said Omulama.

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He said the court order should be served to the union headquarters in Nairobi but maintained the strike is still on.

According to an agreement held in June this year between health department and the union, the county was required by court to provide a list of the promoted health workers.

The county was further asked to progressively provide lists of all other deserving officers for promotion to the union conciliator (union and labour office).

The union went on strike on December 1 demanding promotion of 774 health care workers by the county. The promotions are yet to be made, according to officials.

The court further asked the employer to effect the promotion with effect from August 22, 2016, in phases up to January 31, 2016.

"The county was to promote heath care workers in five phases. So far, there is no list to show people who have been promoted in the first phase, second, third and fourth. We therefore do not have confidence that the promotions will all be done," said Omulama.

Kabii maintains that the county has promoted 220 healthcare workers and that the promotions are effected progressively.

While the two parties point fingers at each other, health services in public hospitals remain paralysed.

On Thursday, the union Secretary General Seth Panyako accused the county of irregularly hiring 140 nurses, 25 lab technicians, 17 pharmacists and five health record officers to ease crisis.

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Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN)health workers' strike