READY TO ENGAGE

Nurses promise Wambora 'smooth ride' if he resolves strike

CoG chair has already reached out to medics' unions declaring willingness to dialogue.

In Summary

• The healthcare workers have been on strike demanding quality and standard PPE, comprehensive medical cover, risk allowance among others. 

• Clinicians have expressed discontentment in how the county governments are handling the strike. 

Kenya National Union of Nurses secretary-general Seth Panyako speaks to journalists in Nairobi.
Kenya National Union of Nurses secretary-general Seth Panyako speaks to journalists in Nairobi.
Image: MAGDALINE SAYA

Nurses have pledged to cooperate with Council of Governor's chair Martin Wambora in resolving their two-month-old strike. 

Unions representing nurses, clinicians and laboratory technologists last week wrote to Wambora to plan a meeting to resolve the strike stalemate that has disrupted service in all public hospitals. 

Wambora took over the leadership of CoG from Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya in elections held in Nairobi on January 29. 

Oparanya had refused to hear the medics' demands and snubbed a return-to-work formula signed with their unions and overseen by the Labour Ministry. 

Wambora has already reached out to the union officials expressing interest to meet and engage them on the matter.

“In the current leadership I see professionalism, I see transformational leadership, I see leadership that is ready to listen,” Kenya National Union of Nurses' secretary-general Seth Panyako said.

“I want to promise Wambora that your leadership as the CoG chair will be very smooth if you continue the way you have started. All we want is engagement, all we want is discussions, none of us is happy when our people are suffering,” Panyako added.

The strike started on December 7, with a push and pull between the unions and the government making a solution to the problem far from achievable. It enters its 64th day on Monday.

The health workers want standard PPE, comprehensive medical cover, risk allowance and dedicated health facilities for those who contract Covid-19 while on duty.

The Kenya Union of Clinical Officers' secretary-general George Gibore, however, told the Star that they are yet to receive any communication from CoG.

“On our side, we are still trying to follow on them but they haven’t talked to us yet. We have done a brief to them, I did a letter which they have received requesting a meeting and a brief on the health issues,” Gibore said.

“We have tried to reach out to them through some emissaries so we are waiting to see what comes out of it.”

He, however, maintained that they have trust in Wambora's ability to provide solutions to the health problems that have been experienced since devolution.

“The union remains available and committed to an amicable resolution of the current health crisis through the legally recognised dispute resolution mechanisms provided under the Labour Relations Act,” Gibore said.

Clinicians have further expressed discontentment in how the county governments are handling the strike. They accuse them of employing unorthodox ways to that medics' demands. 

Gibore said the hostility by county governments is to be blamed for the prolonged health crisis.

It goes against the spirit of dialogue, posing a serious risk to stabilising health service provision in the public sector.

“Case in point, we have seen our members in Kisii, Taita Taveta and Meru counties among others purportedly dismissed, with others initiating disciplinary procedures among other un-procedural and unorthodox tactics,” Gibore said.

The unions maintained that they will not be convinced that there is no money to cater to the needs of the healthcare workers.

A country without money cannot promise Sh2 million to MCAs as car grants, they said.