Homa Bay threatens to replace over 650 striking nurses

The Kenya National Union of Nurses, Homa Bay branch secretary general George Bola speaks to journalists during their demos in Homa Bay town after nurses went on strike on March 27, 2018. /FILE
The Kenya National Union of Nurses, Homa Bay branch secretary general George Bola speaks to journalists during their demos in Homa Bay town after nurses went on strike on March 27, 2018. /FILE

The Homa Bay county government has warned 689 nurses in the county that they risk being replaced for participating in an

unlawful strike.

The county said it will initiate fresh recruitment of nurses should the medics fail to report to work by Friday.

Health executive Richard Muga on Tuesday maintained the nurses were hired under contract basis which is subject to renewal after their period expires.

“The court does not recognise the nurses’ strike. They should return to work before Friday or we replace them because we’ll consider that they shall have terminated their contract,” Muga said.

Homa Bay nurses began their strike two weeks ago over claims of poor working conditions in health facilities, delayed salary payment and implementation of the collective bargaining agreement.

Over 60 doctors in the county also joined the strike last week.

Muga said his office wants an explanation from the medics on why they could not return to work after Governor Cyprian Awiti addressed them.

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“I wrote them letters to show cause why they haven’t reported to their work stations despite their agreement with the governor,” he said.

On Friday last week, the health workers through their respective union leaders, met Awiti and agreed to return to work.

“We had a deal during the meeting and everyone knew both the doctors and nurses will resume their duties. But now we’re surprised they are absent from duty,” Muga said.

The executive said his office has engaged the county Public Service Board to immediately begin the process of recruiting new health workers.

He said the process will be finalised after two weeks.

“The government is advertising the vacancies in various posts for eligible contenders to apply from next week,” he added.

Muga accused the medics of not honouring the county’s pledge in settling the grievances.

However, the nurses' leaders led by George Bola (Knun secretary) and Owino Dulo (KMPDU liaison officer), said no agreement was reached in the meeting.

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They dismissed claims the strike is illegal.

“The county issued a verbal agreement which cannot be substantiated. Nurses have refused to honour that spoken deal,” Bola said.

Dulo said it is high time the county government fulfilled previous agreements for them to resume duties.

“You cannot solve a problem through threats and intimidations. Let them address our grievances and they will see us back to work,” Dulo said.