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Day three: KNH health workers strike rages on…

Reproductive Health - By Betty Njeru
KNH health workers protest outside the hospital over salary increment. [Beldeen Waliaula/Standard]

The Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) workers strike has entered its third day today as patients continue to bear the brunt.

Ambulances with referred patients were turned back as no medical services are being currently offered, and the sick remain untreated at the facility.

The workers who have assembled outside the KNH Accident and Emergency Unit say they are not going back to work until the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) meets their demands.

They faulted SRC for failing to fulfill a promise of better pay.

“We will not relent until SRC gives approval for management to releases the money that was to be paid to us,” said Kennedy Meme of Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotels and Hospital Workers.

Further, SRC has this morning responded to the strike saying that it is as a result of demands for pay increase outside the Commission’s advice.

In a statement seen by Standard Digital, SRC clarified that it undertook a job evaluation and determined the relative worth of jobs at KNH in 2017. "The Commission advised KNH on the resultant job evaluation-based salary structure, which KNH has been implementing since 2017, with the last phase implemented with effect from 1 July 2020. Members of staff at KNH have therefore benefited from salary increment," it said.

The Commission maintained that it had taken into account the principles outlined in Article 230(5) of the Constitution, and Section 12(1) of the SRC Act, 2011, "which ensure a fiscally sustainable, rationalised and equitable job grading and salary structures in the public sector."

According to SRC, some of the key principles among them, the need to recognize performance and productivity, transparency and fairness and Equal pay to persons for work of equal value determine the criteria with which to allocate remuneration and benefits.

The union and KNH management were holed up in a meeting on Wednesday morning trying to come up with amicable solutions as the workers protested outside.

According to KTN News, the hospital management said they are ready to sit down and work on a return-to-work-formula.

On Tuesday, the hospital’s union complained that SRC has failed to implement the 7A clause made in 2012, which made KNH to a parastatal and elevated the pay grade of all the employees.

The management regretted that the unresolved business had gotten thus far as to emanate a strike, "given our workers' frontline role in managing and containing the Covid-19 pandemic".

Meme said that hospital staff is overworked and underpaid.

KNUN Secretary-General Seth Panyako accused SRC of failing to harmonise the salaries despite several government agencies giving the go-ahead.

He vowed to reject attempts to engage in dialogue to resolve the standoff.

“What we want is to see SRC give that letter advising Kenyatta National Hospital to effect payment of that money to all affected employees and thereafter the strike will be called off,” he said.

A fortnight ago, Panyako had given both the National and County governments a one-week-notice to resolve the revenue allocation impasse, to allow health workers to be paid in time.

He asked those who were yet to receive salaries to remain at home until they were paid.

“The blood of those who have died in this country shall haunt you. It is on your hands,” he said to the lawmakers.

The three unions; KNUN, KMPDU and the Domestic workers' union accused SRC of being a stumbling block to the approval of the salary increment.

Court has however suspended the strike now in its third day, and a hearing set for October 6.


KNH workers srike SRC Poor pay

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