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Nurses in fresh pay demand amid Afya House scandal

Health & Science
 Civil society members carrying pig heads and gauged rats talk to a police officer while protesting at Afya House over corruption allegation within the ministry and asked the Permanent Secretary Nicholas Muraguli to quit after he threatened a journalist on 02/11/2016 [PHOTO: JENIPHER WACHIE/Standard]

The Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) will meet in Kisumu this week, with a fresh push for “better terms of service” expected to dominate discussions.

The union had already announced they will make a fresh push for signing of a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) concluded in February 2014, after the Afya House interim audit unearthed possible misuse of funds intended for improving the sector.

The CBA had been negotiated in September 2013 and KNUN national chairman John Bii said they met all relevant stakeholders, including the office of the Attorney General, the Public Service Commission and the Ministry of Health, and agreed on the issues presented in the CBA.

KNUN’s National Governing Council will meet in Kisumu on Wednesday and Thursday to make fresh demands on the deal shelved by the Government on grounds that there were no funds for salary increment.

“We are now demanding that the harmonised CBA be fast-tracked, negotiated and agreed upon, failing which we will call on our members to withdraw labour,” said Bii.

“We have established that the issue was not lack of funds per se. There were enough funds and we want to believe those funds were allocated for salary increment, but a few individuals blocked their disbursement.”

The unionists want salaries for all nurses currently employed at three different levels — those retained by the counties from the national government, those who served under the defunct local authorities and those employed by the counties — harmonised.

They also want nurses promoted and health workers trained in tandem with global trends.

KNUN’s national executive committee chaired by Bii expressed displeasure over the reports of lost funds at Afya House.

Mr Bii said it saddened them that healthcare was suffering acute shortage of medics, drugs and equipment, yet large amounts of money were being stolen.

He said the Sh5.3 billion suspected to be lost could run the Kenyatta National Hospital for a full year without patients making any payments. The money could also fund healthcare in five counties for one fiscal year, or settle the first phase of the CBA for six years, Bii said.

He was flanked by nine other KNUN officials, including secretary general Seth Panyako and national treasurer Agnes Munderu. The union was meeting in Kisumu to plan the push for signing of the CBA.

Panyako said, “Communicable diseases will soon be rampant because WHO (World Health Organisation) has refused to give us vaccines because a few selfish individuals have squandered the money meant for the vaccines.”

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