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Meru health workers give terms to avert looming strike

Thursday January 30 2020

Officials of Meru health workers' unions

Officials of Meru health workers' unions during a press conference on January 29, 2020. The health workers have threatened to go on strike on February 5, 2020. PHOTO | DAVID MUCHUI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

DAVID MUCHUI
By DAVID MUCHUI
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Health workers in Meru have given the county five days to remit their statutory deductions or they go on strike.

The workers also told the county to advertise for jobs to address a biting staff shortage.

Union officials representing doctors, clinical officers, nurses, lab technologists and pharmaceutical technologists had given a 21-day strike notice that expires on February 5.

They have accused the county government of not remitting statutory dues for November and December 2019 amounting to more than Sh38 million and ignoring calls to address staff shortages in hospitals.

FINANCE CEC

Addressing journalists in Meru town on Wednesday, Kenya National Union of Nurses Meru branch chairman Bakari Munoru said efforts to engage county Finance executive Titus Ntuchiu had failed.

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“There is a biting staff shortage and health workers are subjected to long working hours beyond the recommended 40 hours per week. The physiotherapy unit at Kanyakine Hospital was closed in 2018 due to staff shortages. The situation is dire at Meru Level Five Hospital where one doctor and one nurse serve a ward with over 60 patients,” Mr Munoru said.

He said Mutuati Level Four Hospital has no medical officer.

STAFF SHORTAGE

The health workers are accusing the county government of creating the shortage in order to cut the wage bill.

Kenya Union of Clinical Officers Secretary-General Moses Baiyenia said the casualty department at Meru Level Five Hospital is manned by interns due to the staff shortage.

Mr Munoru said some workers have defaulted on loan repayments due to delays in salary payment by the county government.

“We recently discovered that deductions amounting to Sh12.6 million meant for Afya Sacco were sent to Mwalimu Sacco where we are not members. We demand that all pending deductions be paid within 10 days,” the union officials said in a statement.

They also want the county government to release and effect promotions across all cadres.

Mr Munoru said the unions will not allow employment of professionals as casuals.

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