Tharaka-Nithi county government has dismissed 96 nurses after their one-year contract expired last week.
The workers were on Sunday informed by the heads of their respective hospitals that their services were no longer needed by the county government.
Governor Muthomi Njuki said he was not ready to renew the contracts, which expired on April 20, because the department was already overstaffed and its wage bill bloated.
“The nurses were employed on a one-year-contract to mitigate a crisis following a prolonged strike and since those on boycott resumed duty, their services are no longer required. They have to leave,” said Mr Njuki.
He faulted his predecessor for employing such a big number of workers on contract while knowing very well that their counterparts were on a legal strike and would definitely resume work.
The county boss said the 96 have been taking home approximately Sh7.6 million monthly, cash that could be used on development.
“In that one year, the dismissed nurses have earned from the county more than Sh92 million, money enough to tarmac many kilometers of road,” he said.
The governor said although he understands the pain of losing a job, he could not retain the workers at the expense of the poor residents who are waiting for development projects.
Mr Njuki, however, said the fired workers will be paid a gratuity for the period they served and given priority in case there is a vacancy.
Kenya National Union of Nurses (Knun) Tharaka-Nithi County branch chairman Fabian Marigu said there is a shortage of 200 nurses, and that the dismissal of the 96 will lead to closure of some facilities.
He noted that efforts to reach the governor to explain the need to absorb their colleagues had not been successful.
“Some dispensaries like Kathwana were headed by these nurses,” said Mr Marigu.
He also faulted the county government for failing to give the nurses a dismissal notice as per the contract terms.
He said the health workers were expecting that their contracts would be renewed or even absorbed on permanent and pensionable terms.
Mr Marigu added that it is wrong to dismiss workers without a recommendation letter that could help them get work elsewhere.
Tharaka-Nithi County Assembly health committee chairman Muthini Karangi said the dismissal of the 96 will greatly affect services and asked governor to absorb them.
“There is already a big shortage of nurses in the county. The nurses should be absorbed,” he said.