• Waiguru maintained the industrial action is illegal.
• She distributed Hass avocado seedlings to farmers.
Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru on Wednesday threatened to sack striking health workers who will not report to work today.
She maintained the industrial action is illegal. Waiguru spoke at Kiambatha Primary School, Gichugu constituency, where she distributed Hass avocado seedlings to farmers.
The strike is in its second week. Last week, the county advertised positions for health workers in a local daily, a pointer that the governor is ready to defy the workers' demands and send them packing if they don't heed his call.
The advert had 300 positions for nurses and 60 doctors, among other positions. The health workers are demanding promotions, additional staff, including casual workers, further training for doctors, and improved hygiene in health facilities.
But Waiguru said her administration will only negotiate with their unions once they resume duty. "I hear they are calling for negotiations. Let them report to work then we can have a roundtable meeting and see what we can do as a county and what is beyond our scope."
She said she will not sit back and watch residents suffer. The work boycott has disrupted services in county facilities.
"Let the striking workers know the strike is unprotected since we have a court order preventing them from downing their tools. As such, we're going to sack any health worker who will not have reported to work by Thursday (today)," Waiguru said.
She accused her arrivals of compromising union officials to have the county employees stay away from their workstations.
"We have evidence our rivals bribed union officials to call the strike so they can scuttle my agenda in the health sector. They will not succeed," Waiguru said.
The county chief said the strike is stifling the universal health coverage (UHC) she had rolled out to protect vulnerable families at Sh1,700 per house every year. Under the UHC, residents are assured of free and quality health services, she said.
The strike has the backing of the national unionists who visited to show solidarity with their colleagues.
Separately, Kirinyaga Jubilee Party chairman Mureithi Kangara on Wednesday urged Waiguru to sack the striking workers to protect residents from suffering. She said the medical staff can afford services in private facilities. Kangara spoke at Kagio market in Mwea constituency. She said the governor should not let residents die "because of the greed of a few people whose stomach are full and are thankless to their employer".
He said private and missionary hospitals in the county are overwhelmed by patients since the strike began. Kangara said the county has many jobless people who are qualified for the positions.
"If you go to Karira Mission Hospital right now, there are many patients and the beds are full to capacity. The governor should not relent but fire any health worker not willing to go back to duty and replace them so health in Kirinyaga returns to normalcy."
He lashed out at union officials for "inciting health workers".
He urged governors across the country to stand firm against the unions so they do not cripple health, which is a criticla pillar of President Uhuru Kenyatta's Big 4 agenda.
(Edited by F'Orieny)