Fate of Homa Bay nurses in limbo as Governor Awiti retires

Homa Bay County nurses begin their strike over delayed salaries, on March 27, 2018. PHOTO | BARACK ODUOR | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The fate of at least 136 nurses in Homa Bay County hangs in the balance as their employment contracts expire this week.

The nurses, who have been working for three years, are not sure whether Governor Cyprian Awiti’s administration will employ them on permanent and pensionable terms as it did for early-year education teachers last week.

The medics were hired in 2019 as part of the county government's efforts to increase the workforce in hospitals and make access to healthcare services in public health facilities easier.

But failure by the current administration to review their contracts before August 4, the day they expire, means they will be working without any binding agreement with their employer.

The coming exit of Governor Awiti from office this month will also complicate the matter as the medics are not sure whether the new government will hire them on better terms.

Panic has already gripped some of the nurses who think they will be jobless when their contracts expire.

Low morale

Officials from Kenya National Union of Nurses (Knun) said the situation is undermining the nurses’ morale.

Knun deputy secretary Emmadick Okeyo said the union had not heard from county officials about the issue.

He added that most of the nurses would withdraw their services once their contracts expire and this was likely to disrupt health care.

"Hospitals will soon have a crisis of nurses because the affected group will not have what shows that they are employed. No one will work when nothing shows how he or she should execute his or her duties," Mr Okeyo said.

Knun asked Mr Awiti to employ its members on permanent and pensionable terms before he leaves office.

"We will be sure of job security if the terms of service are reviewed. Without the new contract, the next administration may continue with the same trend," Mr Okeyo said at a press conference in Homa Bay town.

Nurses in Homa Bay are also asking for their July salaries before the imminent election.

Knun chairman Amos Ogaga said they wanted the money deposited in their bank accounts by Monday, adding that there was uncertainty about what would happen after the polls.

He asked the county government to provide drugs and non-pharmaceutical items to enhance medical services during the elections.

“We need to be prepared for any eventuality. The county has witnessed violence in the past and we need to be fully prepared for any situation," Mr Ogaga said.

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