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Patients stranded as health workers in Meru strike over delayed promotions

Wednesday October 5 2016

Health workers at Meru Level V Hospital start

Health workers at Meru Level V Hospital start their strike on October 5, 2016. They are demanding the county government effects promotions. The strike paralysed services at the biggest referral hospital in Upper Eastern. PHOTO | PHOEBE OKALL | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

DAVID MUCHUI
By DAVID MUCHUI
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Health workers in Meru have Wednesday morning downed their tools after failing to reach an agreement on promotions with the county government.

Union officials refused to sign an agreement with the county officials forcing them to leave amid heckling by workers.

Officials led by county secretary Julius Kimathi had arrived ready to address the workers but were forced to leave in a huff.

Patients at the Meru Level V Hospital were stranded after trainees who were working there were forced to leave.

The health workers unions failed to call off a strike set for Wednesday despite the county government promising to effect promotions in the next two weeks.

Officials from various health workers’ unions on Tuesday held a daylong meeting with Mr Kimathi, the public service board chairman, Health chief officer and the human resource director.

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The unions announced that health workers would down their tools Wednesday, citing failure by the county government to promote them.

Mr Kimathi said he expected leaders of the health workers’ unions to call off the strike.

However, Kenya National Union of Nurses (Knun) Meru branch chairman Mugambi Bakari said the strike had not been called off.

“We will not comment on the matter until the county officials meet the health workers and assure them that their grievances will be addressed,” Mr Bakari said.

DIRECT PROMOTIONS

Mr Kimathi said advertisement for internal vacancies seeking to promote 938 workers would be cancelled to give room for direct promotions.

Qualified health and support staff were required to apply for the positions by October 14.

“The county public service board will waive a circular that limited the common cadre to two job groups and expand it to four job groups to eliminate career stagnation.

“Positions that require competitive appointments through interviews by the public service board will continue as outlined in the scheme of service,” Mr Kimathi said.

He said the promoted officers will have their salaries adjusted by the end of October 2016.

“Staff shortage will be addressed progressively by the public service board. Re-designations will also be handled in the process,” he said.

Mr Kimathi said 143 health workers were promoted in 2015.

The strike notice had been issued by Knun, Union of Kenya Civil Servants, Association of Public Health Workers, Association of Kenya Medical Laboratory Officers and the Kenya Pharmaceutical Association.

Knun Meru secretary Nesbit Mugendi said that the county government had failed to implement promotions despite promising to do so in 2015.

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