• Last week, health workers gave the county government seven days to pay their July and August salaries
• At Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital contracted nurses have boycotted work after the county failed to pay their salary for more than three months
Health services in Kisumu county yesterday were disrupted after health workers started their strike.
Last week, health workers gave the county government seven days to pay their July and August salaries. The deadline for the notice was Wednesday.
The Kenya Medical, Pharmacists and Dentists Union, the Kenya National Union of Nurses, and the Kenya Union of Clinical Officers, among other unions, served the notice.
A check by the Star in various public hospitals revealed that relatives had discharged their loved ones to avoid a last minute rush.
At the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital, only clinical officers and some nurses were seen attending to patients. At the county hospital, Lumumba and Migosi, local NGOs offered services to HIV/Aids patients.
In some facilities, the security guards manning hospitals' gates sent away patients because there was nobody to attend to them.
“I can't wait for things to get any worse. It's better to take my aunt back home and give her medicine,” Mark Oluoch said outside the county hospital.
Health workers unions had called for industrial action over unremitted loan deductions, delayed salary payments, unremitted statutory deductions and stalled promotions.
KNUN deputy secretary general Maurice Opetu said they had exhausted all the dispute resolutions avenues.
They vowed not to go back to work until their demands were met.
Opetu said the workers had called off their salary parade last week to give the county government an opportunity to explore ways of addressing the salary impasse.
He accused the county government of failing to adhere to the agreement it had reached with health workers, including the full payment of their July salary and bank loan penalties.
Opetu said the county government was to take care of the penalties on loans due to the delayed payments, following their agreement but was not done.
He said not all banks adhered to the county government's request to pay its workers through overdrafts.
The KNUN official termed it unfortunate that some counties had paid their health workers, while Kisumu county hasn't done so.
Last week Kisumu residents told the county government to address health workers’ issues to avoid another strike.
Resident Hilda Okendo told the Star yesterday that if no action is taken, the poor residents will suffer.
She urged the county government to sit down with health workers and stakeholders to find a solution.
Businesswoman Elizabeth Onyango wondered why the Kisumu county government has not paid workers.