Meru makes Sh17m loss as nurses strike

Meru County Secretary Julius Kimathi (right) flanked by the Human Resource Director Mary Kimaita during a press conference on Wednesday where they refuted claims that they have fired all the striking health workers.Photo Muthomi Mwenda
Meru County Secretary Julius Kimathi (right) flanked by the Human Resource Director Mary Kimaita during a press conference on Wednesday where they refuted claims that they have fired all the striking health workers.Photo Muthomi Mwenda

The ongoing nurses’ strike in Meru has delayed the preparation of the county employees’ payroll and caused the county to lose more than Sh17 million in revenue in two weeks, an official has said.

Meru county secretary Julius Kimathi and Health chief officer James Gitonga spoke to the press on Wednesday.

“We only charge levies from the Level 4 and 5 hospitals and since the strike started 14 days ago we had raised only Sh3 million, yet we normally collect about Sh33 million per month,” Gitonga said.

“So up to now we have lost more than half of our [expected] revenue.”

The two denied the county has sacked striking nurses.

There are claims that county workers have not been paid due to the harmonisation of the payroll to incorporate the 1,200 ECDE teachers in permanent and pensionable employment. There are also allegations the failure by the nurses to agree to a return-to-work formula has contributed to workers missing their pay.

Kimathi, however, denied the allegations.

He regretted that negotiations for a return-to-work formula hit a snag, but denied allegations that nurses are striking because of salary disputes.

“The only grievance was promotions in the ministry. The county government has always dispensed salaries to the workers on time,” Kimathi said.

He blamed the nurses’ union officials in Nairobi for the chaos in Meru.

“We reach out to our medics to have a human heart and realise their important noble vocation and duty to our people,” Kimathi said.

“The government is willing to have our medics serving the people and they should not allow themselves to be used as pawns in the political chess game.”