Clinical officers turn to streets to push for deal signing

Governors say they were not consulted before agreements were reached.

In Summary

• The clinicians held a peaceful procession from Uhuru Park to the Council of Governors offices in Westlands, Nairobi.

• Governors, through their council, have not approved agreements.

Clinical officers in Nairobi on January 11, 2020
Clinical officers in Nairobi on January 11, 2020

Clinical officers on Monday held street demonstrations to have their return-to-work formula signed.

They staged a peaceful procession from Uhuru Park to the Council of Governors offices in Westlands, Nairobi. This came after the governors’ body failed to sign the agreement reached on January 1.

The clinicians accused the CoG of resorting to intimidation and hostility meted out to their striking members, adding that grievances cannot be solved through such tactics.

The council has been reluctant to sign a return-to-work agreement for both the clinicians and nurses, with the documents lying at the Labour ministry as Kenyans continue to bear the brunt of the strike that entered its second month last week.

Governor claim they were not consulted before the agreements were reached, a position the unions have dismissed.

“On January 1 this year, we came out together with the CS of Health out of goodwill. After a lot of compromise, both sides were in agreement that we go back with a framework of how to address the serious grievances that concerned the working environment, which was not safe for ourselves and for the patients that we see,” KUCO chairman Peterson Wachira said.

The union said Labour CS Simon Chelugui wrote a letter to all the organs and institutions that constituted the multi-agency committee directing them to send representatives who had the mandate to make decisions.

They included officials from the Treasury, the SRC, the CoG, the Public Service Commission, the Health Ministry and the the Ministry of Public Service and Gender.

“We sat with CoG representatives and agreed on the return-to-work formula and later they decided to go back on the same. We gave them 48 hours to resolve and sign but they refused. As if that was not enough, they decided to dismiss our members and to subject them to unfair labour practices in form of dismissals and show cause,” Wachira said.

 “There is no institution that is ultimately responsible for the health sector in this country. We want a framework where we know where the buck stops, having one centre where healthcare workers can take their grievances and be addressed to conclusion.”

The clinical officers had called off their strike on January 1 but stayed away from work after the CoG failed to sign the document.

The nurses, on the other hand, have been on strike since December 7, with talks between the various parties having been concluded last week. But the document remains unsigned as the two levels of government continues to huff and puff at the situation.

According to KUCO secretary general George Gibore, the health services in the country lack coordinated leadership.

“That is something that should be addressed in urgency so that we can have healthcare workers who are motivated, are happier to offer services because since devolution we have had numerous strikes amounting to 103,” Gibore said.

Lab technologists joined in the strike last week, making an already bad situation even worse. The healthcare workers are demanding for quality personal protective equipment, risk allowance for frontline workers, comprehensive medical insurance cover and payment of members employed under the UHC programme, among other grievances.

The CoG has maintained that the issues raised in the return-to-work formula have huge monetary implication that have neither been factored in the current budget nor the forthcoming financial year, hence will require a special conditional grant for each county to implement.