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Nurses give strike notice, protest hiring of retirees

By Graham Kajilwa | August 3rd 2020 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300

Five more people have died from Covid-19 as a section of frontline healthcare workers plot to paralyse services starting next week over salary delays and allowances.

The fight against the virus is set to be disrupted from Monday next week after nurses announced that they will boycott work to agitate for their unpaid salaries and allowances.

The union has also protested the decision directed by President Uhuru Kenyatta to employ retirees to handle critical care patients.

Surge in patients

The number of deaths in the country has been increasing with the surge in critical care patients, with the highest tally of fatalities being reported on Saturday where 23 persons died - a few days after it was confirmed that 56 patients were on critical care.

Covid 19 Time Series


The five deaths now raise the number of fatalities to 369 as 690 more people tested positive for the virus.

The total number of confirmed cases reported now stands at 22,053 with 8,477 recoveries so far.

During his address last week, the president directed specialists in intensive care services on retirement to be recalled to assist in the surge.

Additionally, the government has solicited services of 20 specialist doctors in internal medicine, renal and cardiology from Cuba based at the Kenyatta University Teaching Research and Referral Hospital for the same.

However, Kenya National Union of Nurses has protested the idea of having retirees recalled saying there are up to 7,000 nurses unemployed.

“We do not want to expose our elderly and aged to the virus and send them too early to their graves,” said the union General Secretary Seth Panyako.

Persons above age 58 are more at risk to the virus due to reduced immunity and underlying health conditions.

“We have over 300 ICU nurses who have been interviewed but they are yet to be employed,” said Knun Nairobi Branch Secretary Boaz Onchari.

The union said while the government seeks to add more staff amid rising cases of Covid-19, it has appeared incapable of sustaining those already on the payroll.

Panyako said some counties are yet to pay May salaries while none of their members has received July pay.

Risk allowance

The July pay as indicated by Salaries and Remuneration Commission, is supposed to be accompanied with the Covid-19 risk allowance.

The allowances for all health workers was supposed to be implemented for three months - April, May and June - with nurses getting Sh15,000 each.

However, nurses want the allowances revised upwards to Sh20,000; the same amount awarded to doctors arguing that they are more at risk compared to their colleagues.

“We warn the government that we together with all health workers and other country public servants will bring this country to her knees on Monday August 2, 2020 if these issues are not addressed,” said Panyako.

Some county governments are yet to hire more staff as promised. There are 4,318 doctors, 6,050 clinical officers, 26,767 nurses and 18, 789 other workers across the country as per the latest update by Council of Governors Chair Wycliffe Oparanya.

Health workers’ union, however, are demanding employment of 10,000 more in order to have the country well equipped to manage the pandemic and also replace those who might get infected.

healthcare workers Covid-19 Nurses strike
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