NOT OVER YET

Reprieve as clinicians call off prolonged strike

Union chairman says they will resume work but will not serve unless provided with protective gear.

In Summary

• A court issued an order requiring them to resume work with immediate effect.

• The court has suspended all disciplinary proceedings, including the eviction of health workers from government houses.

Kenya Union of Clinical Officers chairperson Peterson Wachira and other officials call off their prolonged strike at a Nairobi hotel on February 23, 2021.
Kenya Union of Clinical Officers chairperson Peterson Wachira and other officials call off their prolonged strike at a Nairobi hotel on February 23, 2021.
Image: MAGADLINE SAYA

Clinical officers on Tuesday said they will resume duty as directed by the courts but will only work if provided with protective equipment.

They made the announcement as they called off their nationwide strike. They spoke after Labour Court judge Maureen Onyango issued an order requiring them to resume work immediately.

The clinical officers have been on strike since December 7, demanding quality personal protective equipment, comprehensive medical insurance cover, risk allowance and employment of more healthcare workers to help in combating the coronavirus.

On Tuesday morning, they were served with the court order. 

The Kenya Union of Clinical Officers' chairman Peterson Wachira told all members to resume work in compliance with the order. He said they are law-abiding citizens.

Wachira said they will only offer services when supplied with appropriate protective gear. 

The court has suspended all disciplinary proceedings, including the eviction of health workers from government houses.

It also ordered that employers pay salaries of healthcare workers and all union dues and remit other third party deductions without further delay.

Justice Onyango also ordered that the conciliator, in respect of the conciliation ordered by the court on December 19, file a report on the outcome of the process within 30 days.

Kenya Union of Clinical officers chairperson Peterson Wachira and other union officials call off the prolonged strike at a Nairobi hotel on February 23, 2021.
Kenya Union of Clinical officers chairperson Peterson Wachira and other union officials call off the prolonged strike at a Nairobi hotel on February 23, 2021.
Image: MAGDALINE SAYA

The clinical officers, however, maintained that the issues that pushed them out of their workstations remain unresolved and their return-to-work formula remains unsigned by the Council of Governors.

"We left work because the working environment was not safe. As we go back, we know we are going to suffer because nothing has changed. We urge members not to work in an environment where you know the environment is not safe," Wachira said.

He said the health sector has a big crisis because of lack of a health service commission.

"We were the ones who were spreading Covid-19 because of lack of proper personal protective equipment. Since we went on strike, no healthcare workers have lost their lives to Covid-19.

“It is sad to note that even as clinical officers and other health workers resume duties, the employers have not addressed our grievances on the unsafe working environment, a fact that puts our members in harm’s way even as they resume duty,” the unionist said.

Wachira said, as a union, they remain vigilant and focused on ensuring the welfare, rights and safety of their members are upheld at all times.

“We note that though the health sector has suffered numerous challenges leading to constant interruption of health services it hasn’t been included in the constitutional amendment.”

They now want the employers, especially the county governments, to sign and implement the return-to-work formula agreed upon to provide a working environment conducive to the members.