June 2017 Dailynation; The nationwide nurses’ strike entered it fourth day today, with union officials’ date with Labour Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie bouncing.
Representatives of the health workers were scheduled to meet with Mrs Kandie in Nairobi on condition that they talk about their Collective Bargaining Agreement and not the trade dispute lodged by the Council of Governors.
Leaders of the Kenya National Union of Nurses (Knun) arrived at the ministry at 10am and waited for over two hours.
They were disgruntled when they were told Mrs Kandie was not in her office a few minutes past noon.
Acting Knun Chairman Joseph Ngwasi said they had been told that the CS had gone to the Salaries and Remuneration Commission, which threw out the Sh40 billion CBA the nurses want signed and implemented.
“We are ready to end the crisis but it seems the government is delaying on its part. Let them call us when they are ready,” he said.
The standoff came as caregivers in Kisii and Bomet counties returned to the streets to push the government to implement the CBA.
The workers vowed not to return to work until their demands are met.
In Kisii, the nurses poured to the streets chanting slogans as dozens of patients at Kisii Teaching and Referral Hospital remained unattended.
The few doctors and clinicians who were on duty at the facility said they were overwhelmed by the number of patients seeking treatment.
“We still have a large number of patients we cannot attend to because our colleagues, the nurses, are on strike,” said a doctor, who sought anonymity.
Kisii Knun branch secretary Richard Riang’a accused Council of Governors chairman Josphat Nanok of being insensitive to their plight.
Mr Nanok on Wednesday asked the nurses to resume work as the government looks into their demands.
“He was elected to his current position the other day and should consult those who were in his seat before making hardline statements,” said Mr Riang’a.
He accused Mr Nanok of sabotaging the negotiations with his “careless statements”.
He said COG should not order nurses to resume duty when they are not ready to implement the CBA.
“We are reading circulars that we go back to work immediately,” said Mr Rianga.
“Someone tell them they are wasting their papers and effort. We will only resume work if we are paid our money/”
In Bomet, Bernard Cheruiyot, a Knun official, said all they wanted was the full implementation of their CBA.
“Our nurses will no longer entertain the hide-and-seek games from the county government,” he said.
“We are not going to listen to anybody until our salaries and other allowances are paid.”
In Meru, Meru Teaching and Referral Hospital remained deserted, with only medical interns and casual workers present.
Hospital administrators on Wednesday discharged and transferred over 300 patients to other hospitals after nurses joined the strike.
Governor Peter Munya has, however, asked the nurses to give the Salary and Remuneration Commission (SRC) more time to plan how they will raise funds to implement their CBA.
The governor said salary issues were resolved and counties paid nurses all the allowances they were demanding.
“A CBA cannot be implemented in a single day. The government must be given time to source for funding because a CBA has many issues apart from salaries,” he said.
Speaking at Kiija Dispensary in Imenti Central during the presentation of a Sh500,000 cheque to the health facility, the former CoG chairman pleaded with nurses to hear the cries of poor Kenyans who cannot afford medical services in private hospitals.
“Nurses should feel the pain Kenyan citizens are going through since they downed their tools,” he said.
The governor promised to increase the number of medical staff at the dispensary.
Additional workers will report immediately after their national strike is called off, he said.