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Understanding the Kenya Union of Clinical Officers role towards full registration

By Austin Otieno | February 3rd 2017
Thousands of clinical officers turned up in large numbers at the industrial court of Kenya situated at the Milimani courts to have their appeal case number 9 where they are challenging the denial of their registration of the trade Union Kenya Union of Clinical Officers.

It was all song and dance from the famous Uhuru Park as the delegation led by KUCO interim officials lead the way to the Milimani Industrial Court where the presiding judge at the employment and labour relations court Honorable Justice Nduma Nderi was due to handle their case.

The registration of the Kenya Union of Clinical Officers has taken close to five years and it reached a time the members said enough is enough.

Senior counsel Gibson Kamau Kuria, the legal counsel representing the interim KUCO was very much categorical and owing to the fact that the opposing unions missed the session, the case was pushed to the 13th of February 2017.

After the judge's directive, chants of KUCO KUCO filled the airs with close to 1000 clinical officers who traveled from different parts of the country including Turkana and Mandera moved to Uhuru park to assemble and listen to their leaders.

Earlier on the members were addressed by the legal counsel just at the entrance of the court, the charged and angry members thwarted any efforts by the police to stop the briefing from the senior counsel
Clinical officers’ quest and fight to have a union has been on a Rossy path since 2012 when their process of registration started.

It's only the clinical officers union that has not benefited from registration at the Registrar of trade unions.

In a show of solidarity and with like-minded young clinical officers, the process to have the then Union of Kenya Clinical Officers failed after the registrar refused registration after objection by two opposing unions ,KUDHEIA and Union of Kenya Civil Servants

Another stab at the process ensued with another name now the Kenya Union of Clinical Officers which again was denied registration despite fulfilling all the requirements of registration.

This time it was very absurd and uncalled for because the opposing unions did not base their move on the 2010 constitution that gives any Kenyan the right to join a trade Union of his choice and also form any of his or her like.

The Union despite interim registration has championed for the payment of interns when a petition to Parliament on interns payment was taken with a lot of interest.Ugenya MP David Ochieng passed a motion in parliament that compelled the government to employ 4000 clinical officers at once then another 3000 every year and this came to pass with no action.

The Union also met the Parliamentary committee on Health on a petition to have interns paid but again a sublime approach on this issue has led to the interns being sidelined and their efforts to have them get remunerated has gotten into deaf years.

During the health strike that engulfed the country recently and which is still on courtesy of the doctors It has been evident that the two opposing unions took a behind seat as the 17222 clinical officers in Kenya took to the streets to demonstrate on a series of grave concerns related to working conditions,discrimination, and lack of a union to champion for their rights

The interim union together with the association, the Kenya Clinical Officers Association and the National Association of Clinical Officers Anaesthetists have been on the pole in championing for the rights of the clinical officers.

The Interim Union called for a nationwide strike after consultation with its NEC and the associations.

The impact of the strike was so huge that the government was at crossroads, the international headlines epitomized Kenya's ailing health care as they reported casualties day by day.It was a sad week for Kenyans who could not seek health care services in government hospitals.

The KUCO NEC sat down and decided to suspend the strike considering that the clinical officers are the custodian of health care in Kenya and at large involved in essential health care.

A memorandum was sent to the MOH, COC, SRC etc and the 45-day strike suspension was to allow the government to address the clinical officers grievances which were well documented and well placed.

It was now clear that with the reduction of casualties the government acknowledged the prime role played by clinical officers in Kenya.

The interim union got a chance to meet the MOH and the Council of Governors after pressure from both the media and the public.

The Union extended the strike suspension after seeing some soberness in the way the government was handling the issues but again that didnt mean the clinical officers were satisfied
Clinical Officers issues are distinct and the SRC is at fault for grading such a giant cadre in the level of low-skilled yet performing surgeries like Caesarian section,BTL needs a lot of skills.

There are clinical officers specialists in ENT handling the Ear Nose Throat related issues, there are ophthalmologist clinical officer handling eye, Clinical officer Anaesthetists who are key in theater and work hand in hand with reproductive health specialists where 97% of all the operations revolves under the anesthetist
All this are geared towards improving health care but having a union does not always mean strike.

The clinical officers, therefore, believe that the registrar of trade unions is unfair in not having us represented.

The need to have the union registered like yesterday is what the Clinical officers expect and they are rallying upon the public, the politicians, the church ,the clinicians themselves to put on more effort as the realization to have a union is factual.

KUFHEIA should concentrate on listing domestic workers and hoteliers grievances instead of forcing themselves into having a superior cadre whose agenda is unknown to them to join them.

Likewise the UKCS should know very well that we are the only superior cadre in health care that they still insist are their members yet their list has none of the clinical officers.

As I sign out, I would like to reiterate that its only Diploma in Clinical Medicine and Surgery that takes 4 years in Kenya, unlike other Diplomas.The degree takes five years and this should be a song to the SRC to understand.
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