LOCKED OUT

Kisumu county cracks whip on striking nurses

The government has also stopped the salaries of 428 of them currently on strike

In Summary

• They went on strike on December 7 2020.

• They demand comprehensive health insurance, free treatment for Covid-19, improved risk allowances, PPE, promotions, designations, payment of arrears and creation of a national health services commission to deal with employment.

Nurses on strike in Kisumu
HEALTH: Nurses on strike in Kisumu
Image: FAITH MATETE

The  Kisumu government has issued a lockout for nurses and stopped the salaries of 428 of those on strike.

The health workers have also been issued with a seven-day show-cause letter, to explain why they should not be sacked.

Nurses went on strike on December 7. They demand a comprehensive health insurance, free treatment for Covid-19, improved risk allowances, PPE, promotions, designations, payment of arrears and creation of a national health services commission to deal with employment.

“Show-cause letters will be issued through respective subcounty medical officers of health. Each person should respond individually through their respect subcounty medical officer of Health,” the letter reads.

The letter further recalled all nurses on annual leave to report back immediately, and those who shall not do so within 48 hours shall face disciplinary action.

Speaking to the Star on the phone, chief health officer Gregory Ganda said they have removed some of the health workers from the payroll.

Ganda said the county cannot pay salary to those who have deserted their work without any valid reasons, yet all their grievances and demands were already met.

He said the workers have been locked out from accessing the hospital facilities and should return all government property in their possession back to the administration of respective facilities.

Ganda said all those nurses who shall request to come back will have to reapply to be readmitted and show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken against them. He said some positions will also be advertised.

In a letter dated January 5 and addressed to all nursing officers within the county, Ganda instructed all administrators not to allow the health workers to access county property.

Nurses who have been making a technical appearance, going to work without uniform and not working were warned that they will also be withdrawn from the payroll.

Three weeks ago, Governor Anyang' Nyong'o gave the health workers an ultimatum to return to work within a week or face disciplinary action.

He pleaded with them to resume duties, saying demands had been met. He said there were no outstanding issues.

"Anybody who does not come back to work will have been deemed to have voluntarily abandoned their position and we shall act accordingly," the governor said. 

Nyong’o said health workers had no justification to abandon helpless patients when their complaints had been addressed.

He said salary delays had been sorted and all workers, not just health staff, will receive their wages by the fifth of every month.

“Some doctors and nurses I met can not explain why they are striking, if not solidarity with others striking for totally different reasons," the governor said.

However, the chief officer said the health workers did not adhere to this even after giving them more time until this week.

 

Edited by Kiilu Damaris