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Resume work now, Uhuru Kenyatta orders striking nurses

Wednesday February 13 2019

Nurses from Elgeyo-Marakwet during their strike

Nurses from Elgeyo-Marakwet during their strike over uniform and service allowances on February 12, 2019. President Kenyatta has ordered them back to hospitals. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

IBRAHIM ORUKO
By IBRAHIM ORUKO
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President Kenyatta has ordered all striking nurses to resume work by Friday 8am.

In a stern address from State House Nairobi after a meeting with Council of Governors, Mr Kenyatta on Wednesday directed the Health ministry and county governments to fire caregivers who will defy directive.

The courts, he said, have suspended the strike "and court orders must be obeyed by all Kenyans".

The President further instructed the National Police Service (NPS) to take stern action against any nurse who harass those willing to resume work.

His government, he warned, will not allow unlawful industrial actions to derail the nation’s development agenda.

“It is disheartening to see nurses engage in unlawful withdrawal of labour against the order of the employment court,” the President said.

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He was flanked by the Council of Governors Chairman Wycliffe Oparanya, his deputy Mwangi wa Iria and Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony.

CONCILIATION PROCESS

The Employment and Labour Court suspended the strike that started on February 4 and ordered the medics to return to work pending the conciliation process that it said should take 60 days.

The nurses union’s Secretary-General Seth Panyako said only Machakos, Mombasa and Migori counties had honoured a collective bargaining agreement signed in November 2017.

In the agreement, the nurses wanted uniform allowance to be enhanced by Sh5, 000 annually, nursing service allowance to be enhanced by Sh3, 000 monthly and promotions.

On Tuesday, President Kenyatta said the foundation of the republic is anchored on the rule of law and criticized nurses and their union officials for defying a court order.

“It is disheartening when some union officials declare that they will not obey the court order,” the President said, adding “obeying the rule of law is not an option but a critical requirement of our Constitution. No one is above the law.”

He reminded the striking nurses that the same law that allows them to picket also obliges them to respect court orders.

The President ordered the Health ministry and county governments not to hesitate to take action in the event the striking nurses don’t report to work on Friday.