Government reigns in defiant nurses

The government has moved in to threaten striking nurses of dire consequences should they fail to heed President Kenyatta’s call to report back to work immediately.

Both the Ministry of Health and the County governments have threated to take stern action against nurses who have defied court and presidential orders to resume duty.

While giving a joint press statement, the Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki and chairman of the Council of Governors (CoG) Wycliffe Oparanya said that there are mechanisms to ensure that dismissed officers are not rehired.

Nation-wide headcount

This comes against a backdrop of a headcount exercise in counties of striking health workers, with some nurses having already received show cause letters.

“It is hereby reiterated that the defiant nurses at both levels of government will face disciplinary action in accordance with existing government regulations,” reads the statement.

Containing the strike

To tone down the aftermath of the strike, the two governments have embarked on remedial stop-gap measures, including hiring nurses on contract to ensure there is continued service delivery in hospitals.

“In the medium term period there is need to amend existing laws to provide recruitment of medical personnel on contract in emergency situations,” noted the statement.

The Nurses irreducible minimums

The striking nurses are demanding uniform and nursing service allowances as they were promised in a November 2, 2017 deal.  

Nurses earn Sh20, 000 monthly in service allowance. It is to be increased to Sh30, 000 over three years from 2017. The uniform allowance was raised to Sh10, 000.

“The national and county governments shall stand guided by constitutionally mandated offices on matters regarding remuneration and benefits, and specifically counties that have signed return-to-work formula to ensure they have no financial implication and that counties that have illegally paid allowances shall be guided by the office of the Controller of Budgets,” they added.

As of Wednesday 20, nurses in at least 19 counties are on strike.

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