Nurses and unions split on boycott

Monday March 5 2012

Nurses reject ceasefire
Nurses camp outside Nyeri Provincial General Hospital after they refused to resume work even after government had announced a back to work deal. Confusion surrounds the strike by nurses and other health workers after they failed to agree with union leaders on the way forward. Photo/FILE
Nurses camp outside Nyeri Provincial General Hospital after they refused to resume work even after government had announced a back to work deal. Confusion surrounds the strike by nurses and other health workers after they failed to agree with union leaders on the way forward. Photo/FILE
By NATION TEAM [email protected]

Confusion surrounds the strike by nurses and other health workers after they failed to agree with union leaders on the way forward.

Speaking at Uhuru Park in Nairobi on Monday, the health workers insisted that the strike was still on and disowned an earlier statement attributed to Medical Services minister Anyang’ Nyong’o.

Prof Nyong’o had said the four-day strike had been called off following a deal with representatives of the health workers and the civil service unions at the ministry’s offices on Sunday.

At their Uhuru Park meeting, the nurses accused their union leaders of “betrayal” and said they would not resume work until their demands were met. (READ: Reprieve as nurses call off strike)

They want their monthly extraneous allowance increased from Sh7,500 to Sh50,000 — to match that of doctors, call allowance (night duty) raised to Sh40,000 per month and an annual uniform allowance of Sh40,000, up from Sh10,000.

The striking nurses and health workers, accompanied by their union leaders, initially met at the Professional Centre before they marched to Uhuru Park where they disowned Kenya Union of Civil Servants official Tom Odege for calling off the strike on their behalf “without their consent”.

However, Mr Odege told the nurses and other health workers that he would be the last person to betray them.

“I’m duty-bound to respect your wishes...Whatever we did as union leaders was on your behalf,” he said.

Kenya Health Professionals Society coordinator Fredrick Omiah said as union leaders, the strike had been called off.

At a press conference convened on Sunday night, Prof Nyong’o said consultations to meet the pay demands would start this week.

Operations at the Kiambu, Migori and Kehancha district hospital remained paralysed after nurses failed to report to work.

In Nakuru, victims of a road accident that claimed one life were turned away at the Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital. Patients were ordered to leave the premises and seek medical attention elsewhere.

At the same time, Kitutu Masaba MP Walter Nyambati asked the government to pay its workers well to avoid strikes.

Reported by Mike Mwaniki, James Kariuki, Francis Mureithi, Eric Wainaina, Elisha Otieno and Henry Nyarora