Nurses stand firm in talks to end strike

Monday July 17 2017

Kenya National Union of Nurses has said the salary agreement must be implemented

Nurses in Kisumu on July 5, 2017 carry on with their strike. The Kenya National Union of Nurses has said the salary agreement must be implemented. PHOTO | ONDARI OGEGA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Nurses have agreed to go back to the negotiating table with governors to end their nationwide strike.

However, they will only attend the meeting in the presence of the County Public Service Board Forum chairman and a representative of the Ministry of Health, they said.

In a letter to the Council of Governors that was seen by the Nation, the Kenya National Union of Nurses (Knun) also said they will attend the meeting to discuss only the disputed collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and no other.

“In view of the ongoing strike, the union affirms its wish to see the stalemate brought to an end without compromising the CBA under dispute,” Knun Secretary-General Maurice Opetu noted.

The revelation comes a day after the nurses petitioned President Uhuru Kenyatta to halt his presidential campaigns and address the grievances that led to the strike, which entered its sixth week on Saturday.

The nurses said it was painful to see patients suffering in public hospitals while the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) and the CoG were locked in a disagreement over how to end the stalemate.

Talks with governors hit a snag after the two parties disagreed on the CBA, whose budget the county bosses have said they cannot afford.

“The specific agenda which will lead to signing of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) will take place,” Mr Opetu said in the July 13 letter.

“The union would also appreciate to receive information on the proposal on how to handle the CBA issue.”

Two days before receiving the letter on Thursday, governors wrote to SRC for a proposal on how to end the strike.

“As it is clear that the council had indicated to SRC in early June that county governments cannot afford the monies proposed in the draft CBA, kindly advise on the way forward to ensure that all parties reach an amicable solution,” the letter signed by CoG chief executive Jacqueline Mogeni read.

SRC has said that it was yet to get feedback from the council confirming that they have Sh40 billion-plus or any other amount so that they can pay any additional costs.

“If you all remember, the Council of Governors denounced the CBA because they did not have funding,” SRC chairperson Sarah Serem said.

“SRC wrote to the council seeking their input in terms of ability to pay.”