Governors now threaten to sack striking medics

Thursday, January 14th, 2021 00:00 |

Notice: Trying to get property 'post_content' of non-object in /home/mediamax/httpdocs/ on line 150

Hillary Mageka and Reuben Mwambingu

Governors yesterday threatened to sack all striking nurses and clinical officers should they fail to resume work immediately.

This even as Taita Taveta dismissed over 400 striking health workers for refusing to return to work, joining counties such as Kirinyiga, Laikipia and Mombasa that have already dismissed doctors over the strike.

Health Executive John Mwakima confirmed that 409 medics have been served with dismissal letters.

“Those who want to return to work after the dismissal must personally write a letter to the Public Service Board explaining their case and they will be given audience,” Mwakima said.

 Governor Granton Samboja’s administration at the same time blamed the National Government for the ongoing strike, because of its penchant for entering into agreements with the workers without involving County Governments.

 “Anything to do with salaries, allowances and the return to work formula, must involve the county governments so that we agree on a working formula… in a manner that will ensure that the strike does not end and resume a week later,” Mwakima explained.

Addressing a media stakeholders forum yesterday, the Council of Governors (CoG) chairman Wycliffe Oparanya urged striking medics to suspend their nationwide industrial action and resume work to give dialogue a chance in resolving their grievances.

Oparanya said county bosses are saddened by the strike, which he claimed is not protected in law.

“It is important to note that several courts have also issued orders to suspend the strike, with the most recent one being issued in the case between County Government of Machakos vs Kenya Union of Clinical Officers and Kenya National Union of Nurses,” said Oparanya, who was flanked by governors James Ongwae (Kisii) and Stanley Kiptis (Baringo).

Interim orders

“The court also issued interim orders to suspend the strike in the case filed by the Ministry of Health vs Kenya Union of Clinical Officers, Kenya National Union of Nurses, Kenya Health Professional Society and others. As it is, the strike by the health workers is not protected in law,” he added.

Kakamega governor, however, said all the 47 County Governments are open and willing to engage trade union leaders to restore normalcy in the health sector, which has remained paralysed for more than a month.

“The council urges the trade unionists to engage respective County Governments for purposes of addressing any issues.

We are, however, not opposed to a social dialogue that will help resolve the issues and put to an end to the perennial strike by the health care workers,” he said.

While admitting that governors were fully aware about the concerns raised by the striking nurses and clinical officers and their validity, Oparanya said some of the demands like compensation to those who have succumbed to Covid-19 or spent their money on medical bills were untenable and only serve to add a financial burden to already struggling counties.

Interim orders. Oparanya at the same time insisted the council was never consulted on the Return to Work Formula, which was signed between the Ministry of Health and the Kenya Union of Clinical Officers on January 1, 2021.

“The Council of Governors was not consulted prior to the execution and as such has not signed the same,” he said.

Among the issues the county bosses  are contesting include the doctors’ risk allowance, which clinical officers’ union claim require a minimum increment of between 500 per cent and 650 per cent for low cadres.

Others are enhanced comprehensive group life cover and the conversion of contracts to permanent and pensionable terms, which the governors said require huge resources that have not been factored in the budget.

“Risk allowance that requires a minimum increment of between 300 per cent and 650 per cent to only two cadres, will have a ripple effect on other carders in the health service and also requires the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) approval and availability of resources for sustainability,” reads the January 4  letter from Oparanya to Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe. 

  “Whereas we do not disagree with some of the provisions in the formula, we are aware that an increase in any allowances has a budget implication to counties,” added Oparanya, who insisted that counties shall not commit to any allowances not factored in their budget as this will be a trigger for future industrial unrest. 

But in what is likely to cause a fresh storm among the unions, Oparanya cautioned that any health worker who absconds duty will be dealt with in accordance with the law.

“No worker should expect to walk out of their jobs and then walk back when they so wish – the county governments are not a revolving door.

We are monitoring and shall circulate the names of the employees who have been terminated on account of indiscipline in order for the workers not to be considered for subsequent employment by other counties,” he opined.

CoG urged the trade unions to engage the respective County Governments for purposes of addressing any issues.

“We are, however, not opposed to a social dialogue that will help resolve the issues and put an end to the medics perennial strikes as this has a negative impact on service delivery,” Oparanya noted.

More on News