•The nurses went on strike in October last year demanding to be allowed to join the union
•Previously, nurses at KNH were members of the Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotels, Educational and Hospital Workers (Kudheiha)
Kenyatta National Hospital management has signed an recognition agreement with the Kenya National Union of Nurses.
The pact signed yesterday at the KNH offices between the board and KNUN now formally recognises the union as a representative of the nurses. It gives the union power to articulate issues affecting nurses.
Previously, nurses at the country’s largest referral facility were members of the Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotels, Educational and Hospital Workers.
The nurses went on strike in October last year demanding to be allowed to join KNUN, which is the largest nurses’ representative in the country.
KNUN secretary general Seth Panyako, who stormed the hospital, was arrested and charged with incitement the next day.
During the strike, Panyako was accused of politicising the matter of the welfare of KNH workers.
The then acting chief executive officer Thomas Mutie said that the management is not opposed to nurses joining a union of their choice.
“The management has no intention to stop the nurses from joining a union of their choice or refusing to recognise any union, including KNUN since this is a constitutional right. However, parties must follow due process as stipulated in the law,” he said.
He, however, said that nurses wishing to join KNUN must first renounce their membership of any other union by formally resigning.
“Our first assignment will be to revisit cases of seven of our members who are facing disciplinary on account of picketing,” Panyako said.
“The seven nurses were demoted by the hospital for that. We want to make sure they get justice, are reinstated back to their positions and be paid their allowances which they had not been paid.”
He said it was unfair because the hospital had a commitment that no nurse who participates in the picketing will be disciplined.
He further added that there was no point of punishing only seven individuals yet many workers participated in the strike.