Nurses defiant as Uhuru order takes effect today

Nairobi nurses march to City Hall to demand implementation of the negotiated 2017 CBA on February 4, 2019. /JACK OWUOR
Nairobi nurses march to City Hall to demand implementation of the negotiated 2017 CBA on February 4, 2019. /JACK OWUOR

A standoff looms today between the striking nurses and the county governments as the President’s order that the health caregivers resume work takes effect.

The nurses are defiant, maintaining that the work boycott continues until their demands are met. But the Health ministry and the Council of Governors say President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive must be respected.

The strike started on Monday last week. The demand is for better uniform and nursing services allowances as per the return-to-work formula of November 2, 2017.

On Wednesday, Uhuru ordered the nurses to report to work or face dismissal by the counties and the Health ministry.

“As the Commander-in-Chief, I have instructed the National Police Service to take stern action against picketers who might harass public service for going to work,” the President said.

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Yesterday, Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet said nurses who will be in breach of the Public Order Act will be dealt with firmly. He promised adequate security in and around public hospitals.

CoG chairman Wycliffe Oparanya said both levels of government will undertake a roll call at 8am today.

“Nurses who fail to return to work will be dismissed and further necessary action will be taken in accordance with the law,” Oparanya said.

“There is an ongoing conciliation process convened by the Ministry of Labour where the union, the Ministry of Health and the CoG have appeared and filed their memorandum accordingly.”

The Kakamega governor said the court order issued on February 5 suspending the strike for 60 days was properly served to the Kenya National Union of Nurses.

The officials were further issued with another court order on Tuesday this week requiring them to appear before it next Monday for contempt. The officials, through secretary general Seth Panyako, said they did not fear arrest.

Panyako said the strike will continue until otherwise advised by branch officials, whom he has tasked to negotiate the terms of going back to work.

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