Gloom in hospitals as nurses in 11 counties kick off strike

Kenya Union of Nurses Secretary General Seth Panyako addresses the media in Kakamega on Saturday. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]
The nurses’ strike is expected to officially start today, with the health workers vowing not to resume duty until their needs are addressed.

Addressing the media in Kakamega town yesterday, the Kenya National Union of Nurses (Knun) secretary general, Seth Panyako, said only 11 of the 47 counties would start their strike today.

Mr Panyako said there was no commitment from the governors of the 11 counties to striking a deal with the nurses to persuade them not to down their tools, saying the county bosses had failed to implement the return-to-work formula that saw the last strike suspended.

The counties are West Pokot, Kisumu, Nairobi, Kisii, Taita Taveta, Trans Nzoia, Nyandarua, Nyeri, Wajir, Elgeyo Marakwet and Kitui.

“Starting today at midnight all nurses will withdraw their services from all the health facilities in the 11 counties. These county governments have declined to implement the return-to-work formula we signed with them,” said Panyako.

According to him, on February 6, nurses from Kiambu, Marsabit and Homa Bay counties will join the strike whereas those from Kwale, Garissa, Samburu, Embu and Kirinyaga counties will down their tools starting February 11.

Nurses attached to Mathari Hospital and those working at the Ministry of Health secretariat will down their tools on the same day.

Ministry of Health

“Nurses from Murang’a, Busia, Nakuru and Siaya will go on strike on 18th of this month, which will bring to 24 the number of counties nurses will not be on duty. The strike is taking place on different dates since the return-to-work formula was not signed on the same day,” said Panyako.

Mr Panyako said there would be no nurses’ strike in Mombasa, Migori and Machakos counties since the governors had fully paid the allowances the nurses were demanding.

In Vihiga, Tharaka Nithi and Mandera counties, the strike has been suspended by the union after the respective county governments committed to pay all the allowances before the end of this month.

At least 18 counties will not be affected by the nurses’ strike because they had shown commitment to pay the allowances by the end of the month.

The counties are Kakamega, Baringo, Laikipia, Meru, Bungoma, Nyamira, Isiolo, Kajiado, Kilifi, Lamu, Nandi, Makueni, Turkana, Uasin Gishu, Bomet, Kericho, Narok and Tana River.

In Taita Taveta, a strike is looming after the county government and the nurses’ union disagreed over the mode of payment of uniform and enhanced nursing services allowances. 

Tharaka Nithi will not be affected by the planned strike after the employer agreed to pay uniform and nursing service allowances.

In Kisumu, nurses have vowed to commence their strike today despite calls to call it off.

[Report by Nathan Ochunge, Renson Mnyamwezi, Mactilda Mbenywe and Dickson Mwiti]

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Nurses strikeKenya National Union of NursesSeth Panyako