Nairobi County workers threaten to strike over medical cover impasse

Nairobi County strike

Striking staff of the Nairobi City County Government outside the county offices on February 13, 2019. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Workers' union said their members are being turned away in facilities accredited to NHIF.
  • Acting Nairobi Governor Ann Kananu said they are working closely with the Controller of Budget to resolve the stalemate.

Nairobi County government workers have threatened to down tools from tomorrow (Friday) over lack of medical cover.

The workers’ union, Kenya county Government Workers Union, has accused the county government of failing to pay their insurer, AAR Insurance Kenya, leading to impasse between the two parties.

The Union’s Secretary Festus Ngari said City Hall has been paying insurance premiums in piecemeal despite the contract sum having been known in advance and budgeted for.

The situation, he claims, has been occasioned by vested interests by “top guns” running the county government. 

Consequently, the lack of cover for members has seen many turned away from accredited health facilities while seeking for medical attention or forced to pay using cash.

This, Mr Ngari said, has resulted in the Union losing more than 20 of its members between March 16 and April 8, 2021 with five dying on Saturday alone. 

“If the impasse pitting AAR health insurance and the county government is not resolved, we will take an undisclosed industrial action by close of the business on April 9, 2021. Our members should be on high alert as we can blow the whistle anytime,” said Mr Ngari.

Cover for healthcare

“AAR and City Hall must resolve their issues without putting the lives of our members as a negotiating stake. Respect the sanctity of life,” he added. 

Mr Ngari also laid into AAR accusing them of showing no sympathy to exposed workers who wholly rely on the cover for healthcare. 

“The union observe that while the contract seems highly inflated the service provider should seek other ways of debt collection as opposed to suspending the cover,” he said. 

Further, the Union said, their members are being turned away in facilities accredited to the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) despite faithfully being deducted dues every month.

“NHIF should give us service commensurate to value for our money. There can be no taxation without representation,” said the Secretary. 

Reached for comment, Acting Nairobi Governor Ann Kananu acknowledged the situation but said they are working closely with the Controller of Budget to resolve the stalemate.

“The payment has been delayed by government processes but I am sure the money will be out today (Thursday) and we will clear the payment by end of business,” said Ms Kananu.

The problem began on February 12, 2021 when AAR Insurance wrote to the county government to clear a premium balance of Sh530 million.

Medical attention

On March 9, 2021, a follow up letter was sent to City Hall by AAR Insurance Limited Managing Director Nixon Shigoli informing the county government that it will not be possible to continue offering uninterrupted services to City Hall staff and their families due to failure to settle the balance.

“This letter serves to inform you that we will be forced to suspend credit facilities for the scheme effective March 19, 2021 should we not have received the outstanding premium payment by then,” read in part the letter.

Accordingly, Mr Shigoli said, staff members and their dependents will have to seek services on reimbursement basis until the outstanding premium is received in full.

Further, claims incurred during the credit suspension period will be settled directly with the members of staff after full premium payment is received and subject to the usual policy terms.

On April 7, 2021, Nairobi Finance CEC Allan Igambi responded to AAR saying the delay in paying the outstanding money was occasioned by the late passage of the county’s supplementary budget for the financial year ending June 30, 2021.

He pointed that an initial payment of Sh325 million was settled on January 11, 2021 while the outstanding payment of Sh270 million will be settled on or before April 9, 2021.

“In the light of the above, we request you to reinstate the insurance cover to ensure workers get medical attention in accordance with contract term,” said Mr Igambi.


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