Hospitals paralysed after health staff resume strike

Operations in all public hospitals in Taita-Taveta County have been paralysed after health workers resumed their strike.

Operations in all public hospitals in Taita-Taveta County have  been paralysed after health workers resumed their strike yesterday.

The medics said this was after the county administration failed to honour a return-to-work formula agreed with its health staff on October 1.

Last month, the more than 1,000 workers temporarily suspended their strike following a successful day-long negotiation between the county administration and union officials.

They resumed work after the county government agreed to address all outstanding issues.

The return-to-work formula was brokered in the deputy governor’s offices in Wundanyi town where the two parties reached a settlement to end the suffering of patients.

“We suspended the strike for one month pending the county government’s commitment to clear all pending bills, failure to which the strike would resume. The county administration has failed to honour its earlier commitment that temporarily ended the strike,” stated Richard Nyambu, the Kenya National Union of Nurses communications officer.

Other health workers who are participating in the strike include members of the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Union, the Kenya National Union of Medical Laboratory Officers, Kenya Health Professionals Society, Kenya Union of Clinical Officers and Kenya County Government Workers Union branch officials.

Thorny issues

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Among the thorny issues the workers claim have not been implemented include promotion arrears dating back to 2014.

“We have rejected the government’s offer to pay us our arrears in piecemeal even after passing the supplementary budget that allocated Sh60 million for members,” said Mr Nyambu.

He said that the government only paid Sh29 million for salary arrears while Sh19 million remained unpaid. The official also revealed that the government owes casual workers more than Sh5 million in wages.

Nyambu also disclosed that the county administration had not remitted statutory deductions to the National Hospital Insurance Fund and the National Social Security Fund, as well as insurance premiums as earlier agreed.

“We had agreed with the employer to pay the accumulated statutory deductions in full and not in piecemeal as is been done now,” he stated.

Nyambu claimed that casual workers had not been paid for the last 16 months and when they demanded their pay, they were intimidated and threatened with the sack.

“Scores of workers have been re-designated or promoted but they are yet to receive their arrears for the upgrade since 2014. The memorandum of understanding we signed with the county administration has not been implemented and that is why we have gone back on strike, which started on Sunday night,” the official said.

At the Voi County Referral Hospital, the striking workers kicked out patients admitted in the facility.

“We are now back on strike until the government honours the MoU in full,” Nyambu said.

Reached for comment, acting Finance Executive Davis Mwangoma said he was in a meeting where they were working on a deal to end the strike.

“We had peacefully agreed on a return-to-work formula with the workers. But now they are playing cat-and-mouse game. We will give a comprehensive report after the end of the meeting,” Dr Mwangoma told The Standard.

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Voi County Referral HospitalTaita-Taveta CountyNational Hospital Insurance Fund