EXPERT COMMENT

KUCO: Clinical officers aren't asking for more money

Why did governors have to display salaries of workers who are on strike?

In Summary

• Clinical officers are the least paid, earning least at Sh3,000 risk allowance a month.

• Our RTWF, signed with the Ministry of Health, doesn’t ask counties for money; it says the Treasury will approve and provide money.

Kenya Union of Clinical Officers' secretary-general George Gibore
Kenya Union of Clinical Officers' secretary-general George Gibore
Image: COURTESY

The governors have three issues they are not consenting to with regard to the clinical officers' strike. It is not true that they have agreed to everything except allowances.

First, they rejected the request for group life insurance for clinical officers who die due to Covid-19. In their previous statements, they said it’s difficult to implement.

There is also harmonisation of terms of employment. Currently, they employ clinical officers on contract, paying them Sh15,000 or Sh20,000. They’re not mentioning that in their version of the story. This needs to be harmonised according to human resources policies set by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission. Also, why did they have to display the salaries of workers who are on strike?

The other thing is the health risk allowances. We’re not asking for more money, we’re asking for harmonisation of these allowances. Clinical officers are the least paid, earning least at Sh3,000 risk allowance a month.

In 2017 we wanted a review but only doctors were awarded a 400 per cent increment. We want the harmonisation because of the current risk COs face. We have lost 11 clinical officers to Covid-19 and 827 have got sick.

The current strike has not been stopped by the courts as CoG claims. The courts stopped a separate strike which began on November 29 and had the Ministry of Health as claimant and health workers as respondents. The current strike notice was issued on October 19 and the strike began on December 7. The parties are very different.

However, Machakos and Tharaka Nithi counties obtained stay orders. There's no strike in those counties. So far, the Nairobi Metropolitan Services and the MoH have gone to court in 17 cases but only the two mentioned have stay orders.

It’s also not true that only clinical officers in eight counties are on strike. Most counties are striking.

There are also double standards. The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union signed a return-to-work formula with the council of governors on December 24. So why are they telling us to go to individual counties? They did it with KMPDU and now they’re discriminating against us outrightly.

Our RTWF, signed with the Ministry of Health, doesn’t ask counties for money. It says the Treasury will approve and provide money.

The Kenya Union of Clinical Officers' secretary-general spoke to the Star.