Health workers now call off strike after pay deal

Former Permanent Secretary who is also the Chief of Staff and Taita-Taveta County Governor Granton Samboja's private secretary addressing striking health workers at the governor's offices in Wundanyi town. [Renson Namwezi, Standard]

Health workers have suspended their strike for a month after reaching an agreement with county officials, ending the agony of patients.

The medics and county officials yesterday held a day-long meeting where a return-to-work- formula was brokered at the deputy governor’s office in Wundanyi town.

“We have suspended the strike for one month pending the county government’s commitment to clear all pending bills, failure to which the strike will resume,” stated Richard Wangai, the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Union Coast branch representative.

“All striking workers are required to resume duty by today,” said the union officials.

SEE ALSO :Kisumu health workers’ strike cripples malaria, cancer vaccines plans

The negotiation to end the strike was attended by two county executives - Davis Mwangoma (Finance) and Daniel Makoko (Health) - and several other senior county and union officials.

Dr Wangai told The Standard the contentious statutory deductions had been paid. “The county administration has paid NHIF deductions up to August, and has also promised to settle September’s pay by Friday this week,” he said.

Dr Wangai said the county had remitted more than Sh26 million to Afya Sacco, which had affected the disbursement of loans to members.

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The union’s official said the county’s executive had at the same time promised to roll out a comprehensive health cover for all the health workers next month.

“We have agreed that there will be no habitual salary delays. All salaries would be paid on or before the fifth of every month and in case of any delay, there will be early communication in writing, preferably on the 27th of the previous month,” disclosed Dr Wangai.

SEE ALSO :Shame of Kisumu hospitals shut over worker's strike

The return-to-work formula indicates all issues regarding casuals will be handled and concluded not later than October 31.

Under the agreement, the Human Resource department was given two weeks with effect from October 2 to rectify, compile all promotions and re-designations, as well as calculate the arrears and submit the report to the Department of Finance and Planning by October 16.

“The Department of Finance and Planning to be given a week and then call for a meeting on October 24 to discuss the payment plan,” the agreement read.

The two parties further agreed to pay NHIF by the firth day of every month, and not later than ninth. NSSF to be paid on the 16th of every month while PAYE is to be paid on the 9th of every month.

On bank loan deductions, the parties agreed that all will be paid by Friday 4th October this year and all future remittances will be paid alongside salaries that are on or before the 5th of every month.

SEE ALSO :UHC: Ministry turns the focus to community health workers

Existing vacancies

The parties agreed that the existing vacancies due to attrition be filled by December this year. The county government should also ensure a regular supply of drugs, non-pharmaceuticals, and medical equipment to all health facilities.

“That all workers who participated in the strike should resume duty by tomorrow and there should be no victimisation,” stated the agreement.

Since the strike began, patients have suffered, with up to 67 public health facilities paralysed.

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Health workersKMPDUTaita Taveta County