Return to work or be sacked, Kahiga tells striking nurses

Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga, Youth CAS Rachel Shebesh and Nyeri Deputy Governor Caroline Karugu join women in a jig in Nyeri on Monday / EUTYCAS MUCHIRI
Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga, Youth CAS Rachel Shebesh and Nyeri Deputy Governor Caroline Karugu join women in a jig in Nyeri on Monday / EUTYCAS MUCHIRI

Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga has threatened to sack all striking nurses.

Kahiga said the county has written to the nurses promising to pay them money they are demanding but they refused to call off the strike.

“They said they are yet to be served with the letter, saying it was only on social media. But the truth was that they were served,” he said on Monday.

The nurses said they wanted assurance from the governor himself.

The governor was speaking during a Council of Governors and United Nations Women Gender round table meeting at Nyamaki PCEA hall in Nyeri.

Kahiga made an about turn and said he will not pay the nurses but will instead sack them. Recruitment to replace them has started and his office is receiving applications, he said.

He said he was not ready to see people suffer in hospitals saying he suspected the strike was political.

The letter signed by the Finance executive Robert Thuo stated that the county had a budget to fulfill the nurses’ demands.

“I commit that funds will be available and will be paid before the month end of February, “ Thuo said.

The county assures the Nyeri citizenry of uninterrupted services as this commitment is executed,” he wrote.

Kenya National Union of Nurses Nyeri secretary Beatrice Nduati maintained that they were not served with the letter, saying she only saw it on WhatsApp.

She said their strike will continue until their demands are met, adding that they will not be intimidated by the governor’s threats.

The union called a strike starting February 4 ,affecting 23 counties.

It accused the county governments of failure to implement the comprehensive return-to-work agreement they signed in November 2017.

It ended on February 10 after KNUN secretary general Seth Panyako welcomed the state’s ruling to allow for talks for the next 60 days.

Panyako called on all health workers to report to work. According to the agreement, the government is required to release the nurses’ December and January salaries and reabsorb all employees who had been dismissed for absconding duty.