You’re still on your own as medics, counties row rages

Seth Panyako

Kenya National Union of Nurses Secretary-General Seth Panyako addresses journalists in Nairobi yesterday. 

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

Sorry, your health is still your own business as the tiff between health workers’ unions and their employer deepens.

More than 40 days since health workers downed their tools, they insist that their issues be addressed before they resume work. Nurses and clinical officers’ union bosses yesterday said they are not guilty of the paralysed operations in hospitals, and blamed the governors for the crisis.

“We’re not happy with the way the governors are handling this issue. They’ve frustrated the efforts that had been made by Health CS Mutahi Kagwe, Labour’s Simon Chelugui and the multi-agency team that was forwarded by the government to address our issues,” said the Kenya National Union of Nurses (Knun) deputy Secretary-General Opetu Maurice.

Take responsibility

 “From today, the governors should take responsibility for every single Kenyan life that will be lost,” he added.

The unions insist that governors are being two-faced in the whole issue. 

“It’s sad that the governors have decided to address our issues so casually, and they are doing that in funerals and rallies...,” Mr Opetu said.

The Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (Kuco) Secretary-General said: “There is no goodwill from the governors. They are just politicising the matter and blaming lack of resources, yet we do not want the money, but other important things like personal protective equipment and insurance covers.”

Risk allowance

The nurses are also questioning the delay in implementing the Sh5,000 risk allowance that was agreed on by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission in 2017.

The unionists noted that they’ve negotiated and drafted a return-to-work formula with the Labour CS, but getting the Council of Governors (CoG) to append a signature has been tough.

They also criticised CoG Chairman Wycliffe Oparanya on his remarks on allowances. “It’s wrong for [him] to say that nurses are getting 16 allowances. I’m a senior nurse and I only have four allowances...,” Mr Opetu said.

“We want to agree on items that could make the work environment safe for us and patients. If they don’t agree to that, then they have their selfish reasons,” said Kuco Chairman Peterson Wachira. Kuco bosses regretted that some governors are coercing the striking health workers to resume duty or risk being sacked.

“You’re forcing nurses to respond to expired show-cause letters as if you don’t know the human resource policies that govern HR issues in our government,” Knun Secretary-General Seth Panyako said.

He, however, noted that 10 governors have agreed to sign the return-to-work formula.