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Friday, July 28, 2017

Conflicting accounts on status of 64 sacked county nurses

Clinical officers demonstrate when they began a strike demanding better pay on March 6,2017./MONICAH MWANGI
Clinical officers demonstrate when they began a strike demanding better pay on March 6,2017./MONICAH MWANGI

Have 64 nurses sacked in September 2015 for going on strike been reinstated?

City Hall appears to be confused.

The assembly and the county executive give conflicting accounts about the status of the health workers.

This appears to be a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing.

MCAs have ordered immediate reinstatement of the nurses, who were fired after participating in an “illegal” strike for 50 days.

A Labour committee report recommending reinstatement was approved by the House on Thursday.

The team has been investigating circumstances that led to the dismissal.

However, the order seems to have been overtaken by events as Health executive Bernard Muia yesterday said the nurses were reinstated three months ago after a court ruled in their favour.

But why doesn’t the assembly know this?

Muia said on the phone the workers moved to court last year and challenged termination of their services.

“We reinstated them three months ago and paid them all their dues. The court ordered us to do that,” he said.

Tabling the report, committee member Elizabeth Manyala said the nurses were unfairly dismissed as they were not given a hearing.

“Industrial action is allowed by our Constitution. Someone cannot say the nurses engaged in an illegal strike,” she said.

“Furthermore, these people are very crucial, the county should hire more, instead of sacking.”

The nurses protested against selective promotions and delayed salaries.

They also demanded their salaries be harmonised, saying their counterparts working under the old City Council had better pay.

Through Kenya National Union of Nurses, issued a two-week strike notice on April 13, 2015.

The nurses previously worked for the Health ministry, but were hired by the county in 2013.

The Constitution makes health a devolved function. The counties control the majority of health facilities.

The national government is in charge of policy and management of national referral hospitals — Kenyatta National Hospital, Nairobi, Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, Eldoret, and Mathari National Hospital, Nairobi.

The report says the county deputy director of payroll said the county government obtained a court order on April 20, 2015, a week to the commencement of the strike, restraining the nurses from participating.

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