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Kisumu health workers down tools over pay

Wednesday September 11 2019

Kisumu health workers

Health workers in Kisumu County in a past demonstration. The workers are protesting over their July and August salaries. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP. 

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Kisumu is staring at a crisis after county staff and health workers’ downed their tools Wednesday.

The health workers have already cautioned the public from seeking services in public health facilities stating that all health professionals have downed their tools.

“We are warning the public to stay away from public hospitals. Whoever will attend to you is not a professional, all professionals are away from work. If you have a sick relative take them to a private hospital,” said Kenya Union of Clinical Officers Kisumu branch chairman Mr Vincent Owaa.


The boycott comes after an expiry of a seven-day notice to the county and the health workers have vowed to tighten the rope if their demands are not met.

They are demanding pay of full July and August salaries, remittance of loan and statutory deductions to banks and the implementation of promotions.


“This will be the mother of all strikes. We will not be cowed to resume duties until our demands are met,” said Kenya National Union of Nurses’ (KNUN) branch secretary Mr Maurice Opetu.


He went on: “It is not in our liking to go on strike but the county leaders we elected have imposed the strike on us. It is very painful that we have worked for two months without pay.”

True to their word, patients in hospitals within the county queued up in agony to no services with many opting to leave the hospitals unattended.

A resident of Kisumu town who spoke to the Nation expressed disappointment in the manner in which the county is run.

“It is unfortunate that my son has been ailing for over a month. I spent a lot of money last month visiting private hospitals and just when I thought I had gotten relief, the health workers boycott started. Why is this county punishing us?” questioned Maurine Awino.


According to the workers, the County had promised through earlier talks, to have a positive feedback claiming that the budget would be passed on Tuesday morning.

The workers claim they are balancing on a pendulum due to the shifting of blames within the county leadership that has led to the delay of passing of the county budget.


“There is no guarantee of salaries any sooner because of the supremacy wars between the executive and the assembly and considering the chaos in the assembly we have no hope,” added Mr Opetu.

Devolved civil servants in the county have also joined the boycott due to the pending pay of July and August salary and failure in remittance of NHIF deductions.

“Civil servants in all ministries attached to the counties have not received their pay too and it is a bad feeling to share an office with civil servants in the national government who have received their pay,” said the Union of Kenya Civil servants Kisumu Branch secretary Mr Peter Oluoch.