Health workers threaten strike over unhonoured CBAs

Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) Secretary-General, Seth Panyako during a press conference in Nairobi on Sunday, May 14, 2023. [Samson Wire, Standard]

Trade unions are calling on the Ministry of Health to resume talks and registration of Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) with counties within the next 60 days.

They have warned that they will go on strike if their demands are not met.

During a press conference held in Nairobi on Sunday, May 14, 2023, the unions led by Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) accused the government of persistently violating the rights of their members, despite their efforts to seek recognition or a CBA since 2019.

KNUN Secretary-General Seth Panyako stated that health workers have not enjoyed a pay rise for the last seven years.

"A health worker is poorer today than they were seven years ago due to current inflation and an ever-rising tax burden, a fact that has seen the country lose many highly specialised and experienced health workers to other countries," he said.

The Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (KUCO), the Kenya National Union of Medical Laboratory Officers (KNUMLO), the Kenya National Union of Pharmaceutical Technologists and Officers (KNUPT), and the Kenya Union of Nutritionists and Dietitians (KUNAD) were also represented at the press conference.

KUCO Chairperson Peterson Wachira expressed regret that the toxic environment in which healthcare workers operate has led to an increase in mental health issues among healthcare workers.

He stated that in some counties like Kisii, health workers have had to leave facilities because their lives were threatened due to the politicisation of healthcare.

Wachira also observed that the conclusion of CBA negotiations has been delayed beyond the standard four-year cycle due to the government's frustrating tactics.

"Workers have the right to a CBA, and it is crucial for the government to facilitate this right," he said.