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Striking clinical officers demand permanent jobs, risk allowance

Kenya Union of Clinical Officers coast region at a peaceful procession towards Mombasa Governor's office in Mombasa County on Tuesday 28th May 2024, claiming they are on strike demanding what they termed the profession's respect. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

Striking clinical officers have vowed not to return to work until Sh3.5 billion is set aside to employ them on permanent and pensionable terms.

The Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (Kuco) national chairman Peterson Wachira said the 700 clinicians who are on their 58th day of strike will not relent until they get the Sh1 billion health risk allowance.

Wachira said medics strikes are due to failure by the government to prioritise the health sector. “We are ready to extend the strike. We shall not go back to work if the discrimination has not been rectified and our demands met,” he said.

He noted that the Abuja declaration provides that 15 per cent of the budget be allocated to health but there has been poor funding.

“Health is seen as a liability and the government doesn’t understand the social economic development of the sector. We are having perennial strikes due to lack of implementation of policies that are in law, under-funding, lack of priority and bad working environment,” said Wachira.

Kuco national chairman said that it will cost Sh17 million per year for risk allowance and Sh3.5 billion to employ the clinical officers on permanent and pensionable terms.

“If we get a health task force, we will find a solution to get Sh1 billion health risk allowance for the 700 clinical officers and another Sh3.5 billion to employ the UHC officers on permanent and pensionable terms,” he said.

The clinicians matched to the Mombasa governor’s offices to present their grievances and were promised a sit down with Governor Abdulswamad Nassir.

“There are three fundamental issues we have not agreed on. We are seeking to have our officers under the UHC contract employed on permanent and pensionable terms. These clinical officers have been engaged for three years and they are paid half the discriminatory pay. They are not children of a lesser God,” said Wachira.

The Kuco national chairman vowed to lead more than 1,000 health workers to match to Parliament next week to demand allocation of the funds.

He asked the clinical officers to down tools when their UHC contracts ends and seek permanent and pensionable terms.

“When your UHC contracts end, just down your tools and let us converge in Nairobi where we shall demonstrate and demand to be placed on permanent and pensionable terms,” said Wachira.

The Kuco national chairman said a reduction of interns salary from Sh115,000 to Sh50,000 is unjustifiable and they will continue fighting for professional dignity no matter how long it takes.

“We ask our MPs and senators to resolve these issues. We urge the health committee to ensure that Sh3.5 billion is set aside for the employment of our officers. We are on strike not because we like, it is because the government has not obeyed the court orders,” he said.

Wachira further said that the clinical officers need risk allowance because they are the first contact persons with patients and spend time with them during diagnostics.

He regretted that clinicians do not have comprehensive medical cover and struggle to get medical services whenever their loved ones fall sick.

Wachira said threats against clinical officers by the county health board are illegal and in contempt of court.

He insisted that counties should respect the Labour court orders on clinical officers strike

“The court said we should not be threatened and victimized because of our strike. The positions you occupy are constitutional and we shall file for contempt over threats," he said.

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