Court orders KNH employees to go back to work

Court orders KNH employees to go back to work

What you need to know:

  • Services at the Kenyatta National Hospital ground to a halt on Monday after about 5,000 workers went on strike over delayed disbursement of improved salaries and allowances, which total Sh601 million.

The Labour court in Nairobi has ordered workers at the Kenyatta National Hospital to suspend their strike until a petition filed by the hospital is heard and determined.

The management at KNH moved to court on Tuesday to stop the strike after about 5,000 of their employees downed tools.

George Ooko, who is the chairman of KNH Board of Management, urged the unions to come to the table with a view to finding an amicable solution that will result in restoring industrial harmony.

“We have gone to court this afternoon asking the industrial court for injunction against this strike to allow for time for negotiations on this matter,” he said.

Mr Ooko added that critical services at the facility were ongoing and that it was unfortunate that the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) and the unions had not made headway in their negotiations.

“It is regrettable that it has come to this, given our worker’s frontline role in managing and containing the Covid-19 pandemic. As an essential service provider, the hospital management continues to engage with the Union officials, the SRC and the ministries of Labour and Health to resolve the impasse,” he said.

However, Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) acting Secretary-General Chibanzi Mwachonda claimed SRC was playing hardball by refusing to give direction and therefore workers will not go back to work.

“Tomorrow we shall escalate the issue and march to SRC and demand for what is rightfully ours,” he said.

The Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotels, Educational Institutions and Hospital Workers (Kudheiha), the Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) and the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) are demanding implementation of resolutions from the State Corporation Advisory Committee passed in 2012, which upgraded the hospital’s parastatal status from 3C to 7A.

Following re-categorisation of the facility, all staff working at KNH were supposed to get enhanced pay.

SRC said the re-categorisation is not a basis for demanding a pay review as it is not fiscally sustainable and will cause distortions in the sector’s salary structure.

The SRC has early this month said that they KNH to retain the current remuneration structure as it awaits job evaluation for the remuneration review cycle of financial years 2021/22 to 2014/25. They however wrote to the facility saying that they will do the evaluation in the next three weeks.

KNH employees however said they will not wait for the evaluation with the KNUN secretary general Seth Panyako stating that evaluation was done in 2012 when KNH was upgraded hence no need for another one.

In a letter dated February 12, 2013, to then Finance Principal Secretary, KNH detailed the breakdown of the salaries from the CEO to the lowest Job Group K16/17.

The lowest basic salary for the hospital CEO was set at Sh400,000, while the maximum had been capped at Sh560,000. House allowance was to be between Sh60,000 and Sh80,000.

While the CEO’s basic salary was settled at Sh400,000, that of the lowest worker was set at Sh17, 535.