Crisis looms as clinicians issue 48-hour strike notice

Wednesday, January 6th, 2021 00:00 |
Kenya Union of Clinical Officers George Gibore addresses the media in Nairobi, yesterday. Photo/PD/GERALD ITHANA

Clinical officers have threatened to resume their nationwide strike tomorrow if governors fail to implement a Return to Work Formula (RTWF) reached at on New Year’s day.

The Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (KUCO) gave the Council of Governors (CoG) a 48-hour ultimatum yesterday to sign the RTWF, or risk a total paralysis in all public health facilities.

While criticising the CoG of employing double standards in addressing the issues raised in the RTWF, union officials argued that the 17 demands they raised have been a subject of conciliation meetings between them and a Multi-Agency Committee under the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection- which governors were part of.

Union chairman, Peterson Wachira and Secretary General George Gibore, said the CoG has been participating in the conciliation process that realised the RTWF for clinical officers, and therefore, should not pretend not to know its outcome.

“The CoG is being insincere and unrealistic, to say the least, that the RTWF to be signed at the individual counties yet again acknowledge the ongoing conciliation at the Ministry of Labour,” Wachira said as nurses in Mombasa, through Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) vowed to return to work any time soon.

Yesterday’s statement from the clinical officers – who just signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Health on December 1 - comes merely four days after they resorted to go back to work after successful meetings under the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, to address their predicament.

On Monday, CoG chair Wycliffe Oparanya wrote to Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe, dismissing the RTWF the ministry had entered into with health workers arguing that the issues raised in the RTWF have already been addressed with different measures therefore cancelling out its purpose.

Well intended 

“The County Governments uphold the interests of all workers including health workers.

Therefore, the negotiations that were undertaken to arrive to the RTWF by the two unions though well intended need to have involved each County Government.

“This is because individual County Governments are already addressing the issues of health workers and are at advanced stages,” Oparanya said.

CoG observed in the letter - also copied to Labour CS Simon Chelugui, Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache - that there are county governments “where there are no strikes at all.”

“We also note that some of the issues raised in the RTWF have huge monetary implication that have neither been factored in the current budget nor the forthcoming Financial Year, and will therefore require a special conditional grant allocated to each County Government for implementation of the following; risk allowance that requires a minimum increment of between 500 to 650 per cent to only two cadres,” he said, arguing that this has a ripple effect to other cadres in the Health sector and also requires the Salaries and Remuneration Commission’s approval and availability of resources to undertake various financial requirements.

However, during a meeting with journalists, KUCO chairman, Wachira said that they knew the governors were working on their own as President Uhuru Kenyatta and the Ministry of Health had shown goodwill to address their issues. Reporting by George Kebaso, Monica Kagia and Alvin Kariuki

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