KENYA:Nurses defy Uhuru order as CS fails to lure medics back to work

February 2019 thestar;Labour Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani on Friday failed to convince nurses to return to work with the medics accusing their employers of not honouring agreements.

The nurses defied President Uhuru Kenyatta’s and governors’ order to resume work by Friday.

Uhuru on Wednesday warned that those who failed to resume work would be sacked. The court earlier directed the nurses to return to work for 60 days pending negotiations with the government.

“It was my expectation that following the court order, the Kenya National Union of Nurses would have called off the strike to give conciliation a chance,” Yatani told reporters.

He spoke at Labour ministry headquarters at NSSF building. The nurses have been on strike for two weeks.

The minister said calling off the strike should be done in good faith since the conciliatory meetings are ongoing.

“The striking nurses are in contempt of the court ruling but they still have a chance to obey a legitimate order,” Yatani said.

Knun deputy secretary-general Maurice Opetu said nurses had the  right to continue with their strike as it was meant to improve services in public hospitals.

“We are fighting for what is good for this nation. If it means going to jail for the rights of all Kenyans, then I have no problem,” Opetu told  a local FM station.

“We shall only engage in negotiations if the agenda is grading structures and harmonising salaries. They have to sign an agreement in court and stop the sideshows,” he said.

The previous agreement already in the labour court was signed in November 2017 and deposited after a five-month strike.

The CS defended Uhuru’s and the Council of Governor’s stand that the nurses return to work or get fired.

“The responsibilities of sacking the nurses will be left with the employers who are the Council of Governors and the ministries involved.”

Yatani said the court order could only be overruled on appeal and that he had nothing to tell the nurses if they had decided not to go back to work.

 

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