What you need to know:
- Health workers’ union officials have now told their members to prepare for industrial action if the county government fails to take action in two weeks.
- After winning the election, the governor has prioritised health care provision, but health workers say some key issues are yet to be addressed one year later.
Homa Bay Governor Gladys Wanga and her deputy Oyugi Magwanga are facing criticism for failing to honour a charter they signed with healthcare workers during their campaigns last year.
The two have been accused of violating an agreement they had with medics on how to address the health workers’ grievances.
Health workers’ union officials have now told their members to prepare for industrial action if the county government fails to take action in two weeks.
Some of the issues that were to be addressed according to the agreement were timely salary payment and remittance of statutory deductions, promotions, and adequate supply of pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical supplies to hospitals.
Ms Wanga also promised that she would honour all agreements between health workers and the government and ensure rational deployment of staff.
After winning the election, the governor has prioritised health care provision, but health workers say some key issues are yet to be addressed one year later.
Kenya National Union of Medical Laboratory Officers Executive Secretary Joseph Opondo, his Kenya National Union of Nurses counterpart Emadick Otieno and Kenya National Union of Clinical Officers Executive Secretary Felix Ouko said their members are suffering because of failure by the county government to honour the agreement.
Mr Opondo said that the notion that the current administration has transformed the health sector as compared to the last administration is false as medics in the county are a disadvantaged lot.
In the charter, it was agreed that salaries would be paid by the fifth day of every month, but Mr Opondo said they have witnessed delays over the past six month.
“We have never missed getting our monthly pay, but the money is deposited in our bank accounts late, which causes a lot of inconvenience,” he said. He added that no communication has ever been issued to explain the salary delays.
Mr Opondo also accused the county government of failing to remit some statutory deductions even after the amounts were deducted from the workers’ salaries.
“Failure to remit statutory deductions raises questions on where the money is diverted to. It is an offence to deduct salaries but fail to remit to respective organisations,” Mr Opondo said.
Mr Otieno said the unions would also wish to know why some workers had their salaries withheld during a staff audit.
“We were told that their files are missing, yet some produced copies of the documents they used to get employment,” Mr Otieno said.
Mr Ouko accused the county government of failing to promote employees who have stayed in the same job group, some for up to 10 years.
The unionist also asked for provision of comprehensive health insurance cover. While they are currently enrolled under the National Hospital Insurance Fund, they asked for more benefits.
“It is unfortunate that we manage disease but some of us cannot be treated when they are sick. Most of us spend our money to go to the hospital when the bills should be paid by an insurance company,” Mr Ouko said.
Health Chief Officer Kevin Osuri said the problem of delayed salary payments is due to delayed disbursements from the national government.
“These are issues that affect other county governments as well. We have been sourcing for funds using other means to pay workers,” Dr Osuri said.
On delayed promotions, the health official said the devolved unit is still looking at a staff audit report that revealed that a number of workers were earning salaries without offering any services to the people.
He told health workers that the county administration will call them for a meeting to iron out issues affecting the health sector.