What you need to know:
- The workers accused the county government of failing to remit money amounting to Sh400million, which had been deducted from their salaries, to National Hospital Insurance Fund and various banking institutions.
- Further, they complained that they had not been promoted for close to a decade.
Embu health workers have today (Wednesday) started boycotting work over delayed salaries and non-payment of Covid-19 allowances.
The strike has paralysed all services at the Embu referral hospital and other health facilities in the county.
Hundreds of patients across the region seeking treatment for various ailments were left suffering.
Others were abandoned in the wards with no nurses to either administer drugs or serve them food.
The 2,400 workers boycotted work from Wednesday morning and took to the streets in protest.
Led by their union officials, the workers, among them doctors, clinical officers, pharmacists, nurses and laboratory technicians, passed a vote of no confidence in the County Health executive Patrick Waganagwa and the Public Health Director Rosaline Kaugi.
"This government is taking us for a ride and we shall take it head-on. We must fight to be freed from the chains of oppression," the Eastern region Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union chairman, Dennis Mugambi, charged.
Grievances are addressed
The health workers vowed to stay away from their work stations until their grievances are addressed.
While waving placards and carrying an effigy of Ms Kaugi, the workers accused Governor Martin Wambora's government of failing to address their problems.
Further, the workers complained that they had not been promoted for close to a decade.
They also accused the government of failing to remit money amounting to Sh400million, which had been deducted from their salaries, to National Hospital Insurance Fund and various banking institutions.
At the Embu hospital, Charles Gitonga, a patient, complained that he had not been served breakfast.
"I have not eaten anything since morning and the situation is serious. I have also not been subjected to dialysis and I may collapse very soon," lamented Mr Gitonga.
Beatrice Mwaniki, who had taken her one-month-old daughter for postnatal check-up, was turned away as there were no workers to attend to her.
"I trekked from Kamunyange village to the hospital only to find there was no one to treat my daughter," she said.
A spot check by the Nation established that the hospital was in a pathetic condition as there was no one to wash dirty linen and clean dusty floors.
Visitors were met with a foul smell emanating from blocked toilets and uncollected garbage.
"A disease outbreak is likely due to the filthy state of the hospital. We may also contract coronavirus because even the isolated patients are mingling with us because there are no staff to control them," another inpatient, Mr Joseph Kariuki, said.
Tension mounted as the workers erected a human roadblock on the Embu-Makutano Road, causing a major traffic snarl-up.
Anti-riot police patrolled the area to counter any lawlessness as the workers chanted war songs.
Moments later, the workers proceeded to the county headquarters and attempted to force their way in, but were repulsed by security guards.
They vowed to camp outside until they are addressed by Governor Wambora.
The workers resolved to take industrial action after their seven-day strike notice to the government expired.
"Our members waited for their grievances to be addressed but the government ignored them. We are saying enough is enough," Dr Mugambi added.
The Embu branch Kenya National Union of Nurses Secretary Joseph Ngwasi said that there will be no retreat and told the workers to remain put.