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Nurses in Kenya to resume strike on Wednesday over unpaid allowances

By Geoffrey Mosoku and Graham Kajilwa | Published Sat, January 28th 2017 at 10:50, Updated January 28th 2017 at 10:54 GMT +3
Kenya National Union of Nurses Secretary General Seth Panyako (right) and other union officials during a press briefing in Nairobi yesterday. [PHOTO: WILLIS AWANDU/STANDARD]

Nurses are set to resume a nationwide strike on Wednesday after the Government disowned a deal it signed only a month ago.

It has now emerged that the Treasury is yet to disburse monies meant for nurses' allowances agreed upon in December last year.

Nurses who have been in talks with the counties walked out of talks on Thursday evening on realising they won't be paid their dues.

And the Council of Governors (CoG) appears to have thrown in the towel after frantically sending various letters to the Treasury asking for funds.

The Standard on Saturday has learnt that the county chiefs have conceded that the State may have played both the counties and nurses.

This is after the CoG wrote to the counties giving them a go-ahead to process this month’s payroll that they had sought to delay until the funds are availed.

On Thursday CoG Chief Executive Jacqueline Mogeni wrote to all 47 counties asking them to proceed with their payrolls in spite of her earlier letter which she had done three days earlier asking for delay of the same.

Delay payroll

“We refer to our letter dated January 23 2017, requesting that you delay the closing of the payroll.

The council would like to note that the Ministry of Health is still following up on the required establishment of the payment code that will allow the counties to make payments to the affected nurses,” the letter dated January 26 2017 reads in part.

The circular, which is copied to the Kenya National Union of Nurses (Knun) and the ministries of Devolution and Treasury, asks counties to negotiate with their respective nurses on how to effect the allowances.

Yesterday, Knun Secretary General Seth Panyako said the nurses will resume their strike on February 1 if they will not have received their pay.

“As to where the State will get the money from, that is administrative for the Government. However, if we shall not receive our allowances by February 1, we shall return to industrial action,” Panyako said.

Panyako pointed fingers at the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) which he said is yet to give the authorisation circular to effect the new allowances.

“SRC is the stumbling block in the whole process; you can see that almost every workforce is up in arms.

I have been informed that an authorisation letter is yet to be produced by the commission for payment to take place,” Panyako said.

The move threatens once again to paralyse services in public health facilities across the country. The nurses will be joining doctors who have been on strike for two months now. Knun suspended its 10-day strike on December 14 last year following a truce reached with the national and county governments.

This was after the county governments led by CoG Chair Peter Munya agreed to sign the recognition agreement in the presence of Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu.

In the deal, Mailu was forced to amend some clauses to an earlier Sh7 billion duty resumption agreement rejected by the nurses.

In the new agreement, the monetary benefit of a ‘nursing service allowance’ of Sh20,000 for nurses in job group G to L and Sh15,000 for M and above was maintained.

Those in job group G to L were to be paid first tranche of Sh12,000 on January 1 and the remaining Sh8000 on July 1 while those in job group M and above were to receive Sh9,000 in January and Sh6,000 in July.

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