• The medics also want the county government to reinstate clinical officer’s union secretary general Moses Baiyenia.
• Baiyenia was suspended on Friday after talking to the press about pending pay to health workers and a lack of training on handling the coronavirus pandemic.
Meru health workers entered their second week of a strike over delayed salaries and heavy workloads due to staff shortage.
The medics also want the county government to reinstate clinical officer’s union secretary general Moses Baiyenia.
Baiyenia was suspended on Friday after talking to the press about pending pay to health workers and a lack of training on handling the coronavirus pandemic.
Union leaders convened at the Meru ASK Showground on Saturday and resolved to stand by Baiyena until he is reinstated and all their demands met.
But Meru Health chief officer Kanana Kimonye and Health executive Misheck Mutuma maintained that the county was prepared to fight coronavirus.
Mutuma said they don’t have enough staff but we will conduct interviews next week to employ 162 workers and another 102 on contracts. Some 156 medics will be deployed by the national government,” Mutuma said.
While suspending Baiyena, Kimonye said the unionist's actions were deemed to be gross misconduct and insubordination, warranting dismissal.
“You are suspended from exercising your office duties from the date of this letter pending finalisation of your case. You will not be entitled to any salary,” Kimonye said.
The suspension letter was copied to Finance executive and Deputy Governor Titus Ntuchiu.
Union chairman Dennis Mugambi said the health workers are ill-prepared to handle coronavirus disease due to lack of protective gear and sanitisers.
Mugambi said Governor Kiraitu Murungi’s administration has refused to remit their statutory deductions and was making them vulnerable to auctioneers.
Mugambi Bakari said a nurse at Meru Level 5 hospital serves at least 100-200 patients.
“We demand Governor Kiraitu Murungi to use dialogue mechanisms to tackle our issues and not through intimidation and threats to the voice of workers,” Bakari said.
Kenya National Union of Nurses Meru secretary general Nesbit Mugendi said the staffers are not motivated.
The chief officer said salary delays are a countrywide issue and all county workers haven't been paid because the Treasury is yet to release funds.
She said the county has some coronavirus equipment and more will be brought next week as sensitisation and training continues.
Kimonye said the design of isolation ward is suitable because it is closer to the labs for tests, near outpatient not to transmit the virus and for quick access to an ambulance.
Mutuma said the county had put up a 20-bed capacity isolation facility for suspected cases of coronavirus.
Another 15 beds were to be added as part of the preparations, he said.
(edited by o. owino)