BACKDATED TO 2012

KNH staff call off strike after state promises to pay arrears

Committee formed to detail, within 14 days, how payments will be done

In Summary

• Demands related to salary increments of between 18 per cent and 30 per cent, approved when the KNH was upgraded from a parastatal category 3C to 7A, in 2012. 

• Staff say only the CEO's salary was increased despite money being budgeted for and approved in subsequent budgets. 

Family members remove their sick relative from a ward on September 9 as workers strike began at the Kenyatta National Hospital
SH2.5BN EVERY YEAR: Family members remove their sick relative from a ward on September 9 as workers strike began at the Kenyatta National Hospital
Image: COURTESY

Kenyatta National Hospital staff resumed work on Monday evening after the government promised to pay their arrears. 

The agreement, signed on Monday, says the workers will be paid their arrears beginning October. 

It was signed by the hospital management, staff representatives, officials of the State Corporations Advisory Board and leaders of the Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotels, Educational Institutions and Hospital Workers (Kudheiha). 

 

They formed a committee that will within 14 days detail how the arrears will be paid. 

“The working committee will report on the progress by September 23 and make recommendations which shall include the requisite budgetary implications, process and approval framework in developing the implementation roadmap,” the agreement says. 

Health PS Susan Mochache apologised to the workers. 

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The staff were demanding salary arrears backdated to 2012. The demands related to salary increments of between 18 per cent and 30 per cent, approved when the KNH was upgraded from a parastatal category 3C to 7A, in 2012.  

However, only the salary and allowances of the CEO were raised, despite money being budgeted for and approved in subsequent budgets.

Kudheiha had called the strike after KNH management said the increment for all workers would cost them an additional Sh2.5 billion every year, "which we do not have". 

The changes, according to Kudheiha secretary-general Albert Njeru, were to cut across all the staff

 

KNH has about 5,000 workers, the majority members of Kudheiha.

Apart from staff in critical areas like the Intensive Care Unit, only doctors and nurses were working on Monday. 

Accident and emergency sections continued to receive patients and many claimed they were being attended to. But outpatient units were closed. 

However, panicky family members removed their patients from the wards. 

Nurses and doctors who belong to the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union and the Kenya National Union of Nurses were not on strike.

They recently received more money through collective bargaining agreements between their unions and the hospital. 

Njeru said the hospital had tried to thwart the strike through dialogue but “to our surprise, no serious discussion, attempt or commitment has come from (either)  the management of KNH or the government".

KNH acting CEO Evanson Kamuri said the hospital would only pay the staff the increased house allowance arrears along with the September salaries. 

"The matter of re-categorisation of KNH to PC 7A should only be addressed through negotiations and the same should be commenced," Dr Kamuri said.

The workers said millions of shillings could have been squandered, alleging the money for increased salaries and allowances was budgeted for in 2014-15.

This year, Sh428 million was approved in the budget for the increment during the reign of CEO Lily Koros. 

After the re-categorisation, the CEO and his deputy would earn 30 per cent more, with the CEO taking home between Sh500,000 and Sh740,000 inclusive of salary and all allowances. 

KNH has 16 job groups, with the highest being the CEO. Those between job groups K2-K10 would earn 20 per cent more. 

The rest would get 18 per cent more, with the lowest-paid worker earning  Sh20,629 salary and Sh9,000 in house allowances. 

Edited by R.Wamochie