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Meru medics threaten strike over staff shortage, promotions

Thursday January 16 2020

Meru clinical workers strike

Mr Moses Baiyenia, Meru County's Secretary of the Kenya Union of Clinical Officers, addresses workers outside Meru Teaching and Referral Hospital during a go-slow on August 13, 2019. PHOTO | DAVID MUCHUI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

CHARLES WANYORO
By CHARLES WANYORO
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Health workers in Meru County have issued a 21-day strike notice in protest against poor working conditions, shortage of staff, delayed promotions and delays in remitting statutory deductions.

The workers, numbering bout 800, also want the devolved unit to address delays in their release for study leave. They said they are sometimes not allowed to take the leave.

Mr Moses Baiyenia, Meru County Secretary of the Kenya Union of Clinical Officers, said at least 1,500 nurses and 300 clinical officers are needed.

“Those who have worked for long have not been promoted. Others have complained that deductions to repay loans or other commitments are made from their pay but are not remitted to banks," he said.

He said that talks over the issues started last December but collapsed as the national office called a strike.

ONE ONCOLOGIST

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Mr Timothy Njeru, Meru Secretary of the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU), said the county has 135 doctors, with at least 40 assigned managerial duties or on study leave.

He said at least 80 should be posted to Meru Teaching and Referral Hospital and all level four facilities.

“At the referral hospital we have an oncology centre and only one oncologist. For the facilities to be adequately manned, we need between 180 and 230 specialists," he said.

COUNTY'S RESPONSE

Officials representing doctors, nurses, medical laboratory officers, dentists, pharmaceutical technologists and clinical officers issued the strike notice on Thursday.

Meru County Secretary Rufus Miriti said he had not seen the letter but would organise a meeting with the officials to prevent the industrial action.

“I would advocate a round-table meeting. I believe if we sit and talk, chances are that we shall agree on the way forward," he told the Nation on the phone.

"If there are factors beyond the county’s control, the officials will have to understand, but if there are issues we can handle, we will commit to doing that."

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