Sunday, February 3, 2013

Nurses’ strike enters third month

Nurses in Mombasa County chant slogans outside the Coast General Hospital on December 20, 2012. File/Photo

Nurses in Mombasa County chant slogans outside the Coast General Hospital on December 20, 2012. The government has blocked their salaries since December even as it seeks ways out of the quagmire that has injured healthcare countrywide. File/Photo  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By EDITH FORTUNATE [email protected]

Services in public health facilities remain paralysed as the nurses’ strike enters its third month with no breakthrough in sight.

The government has in turn blocked their salaries since December even as it seeks ways out of the quagmire that has injured healthcare countrywide.

Chief Nursing Officer Chris Rakuom now says the government is doing all it can to ensure nurses resume duty this week.

Mr Rakuom told the Sunday Nation that they have held meetings with the nurses to discuss their return-to-work demands.

“We have held a meeting with the officials and so far we are heading in the right direction. We want to ensure that nurses are back to their stations by next [this] week,” said Mr Rakuom.

Some of the areas highly affected by the strike are Coast, Western and Kajiado regions.

“The process to ensure they go back to work is moving on well; most of the nurses who are resuming duty are being put back on the payroll immediately. We will reinstate them immediately if they go back to work,” he said.

But the Secretary General of the unregistered Kenya National Union of Nurses Seth Panyako said they do not agree with the Chief Nursing Officer’s demands.

“Mr Rakuom wants to victimise nurses. How does he issue orders that have no head or tail? You cannot deny us our December and January salary nor can you demote an individual because they went on strike, that is unacceptable,” said Mr Panyako.

Last month, the nurses obtained orders directing the government to give them an audience.

“The orders we obtained are that the government was supposed to engage the nurses union as presently constituted, so far only the Public Service Commission has been receptive. Other ministries we are meeting have treated us with arrogance and little regard for our profession”.

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