Health strike looms after unions issue strike notice

KNUN General Secretary Seth Panyako during the signing of CBA of Tenwek Hospital at Federation of Kenya Employer office in Nakuru on February 18, 2019. [Harun Wathari/Standard]

A health crisis is looming in the county after four unions issued a strike notice yesterday.

Health workers warned they would down their tools on July 1 over delayed promotions and failure by the Government to implement collective bargaining agreements.

A 21-day notice lapsed on Monday, prompting the issuance of the strike notice.

The joint statement was signed by officials from Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU), Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN), Kenya National Union of Clinical Officers and Kenya National Union of Medical Laboratory Officers.

KNUN Secretary, Elgeyo Marakwet Chapter, Benson Biwott said the unions wrote to the County Public Service Board, County Secretary Paul Chemutut and Health Executive Kiprono Chepkok on May 27 seeking an amicable solution to the delayed promotion of health workers and replacement of retired staff.

Mr Biwott said the strike will paralyse operations in all county hospital departments and warned patients to prepare to seek services from neighbouring counties if the matter is not resolved.

“We have done everything to resolve the issues with the county government but they decided to dodge us. We are now left with no other option but to call for industrial action,” he said.

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The unionist said health workers had not been promoted since 2013 when health was devolved. Further, he said, the county has 274 nurses but another 300.

The unions said the health workers were overworked because of failure by the county administration to employ staff to replace those who have exited the service for various reasons.

“The status quo has greatly demotivated and demoralised our members who feel that their rights have been violated,” the officials said.

Mr Chepkok, however, said the county government did not have funds to hire new workers or effect the delayed promotions.

“The concerns of the unions are genuine. The problem on our side is finance. We can promote them if we get additional funds from the National Treasury,” he told The Standard.

The Health CEC said the department would meet the unions after consulting with its legal team and finance officers.

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