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Governors appeal to striking healthcare workers to resume work or lose their jobs

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NAIROBI, Kenya Jan 13 – The Council of Governors (CoG) has urged striking nurses and clinical officers to suspend their nationwide strike and resume work so as give dialogue a chance in resolving their grievances.

The council Chairman Wycliffe Oparanya during a stakeholders meeting on Wednesday said all the 47 County Governments were open and willing to engage with the leaders of their trade unions so as to restore normalcy in the health sector that has remained paralysed for more than a month.

“The Council urges the trade unionists to engage the respective County Governments for purposes of addressing any issues. We are however not opposed to a social dialogue that will help resolve the issues and put to an end to the perennial strike by the health care workers,” he said on Wednesday.

While admitting that Governors were fully aware about the concerns raised by the healthcare workers and their validity, the Kakamega Governor underscored the County Governments since the inception of devolution had prioritised addressing the healthcare workers concerns as a devolved function.

“County Governments have been on the forefront to ensure that the interest of all workers are upheld,” he said.

He noted that in 2017, counties had spent a total of Sh5.4 billion to cater for the healthcare workers allowances’.

He also reminded the healthcare workers that a multi-agency conciliation committee that was constituted by the Ministry of Labour in finding an amicable solution on the impasse was yet to release its report and asked the medics to call off their strike as a gesture of good faith pending the outcome of the conciliation.

The second term Govenor however, warned that the respective 47 county governments would act accordingly and punish health care workers who abscond duty.

“Any health worker who absconds duty will be dealt with in accordance with the law. No worker should expect to walk out of their jobs and then walk back when they so wish. We are monitoring and shall circulate the names of the employees who have been terminated on account of indiscipline in order for the workers not to be considered for subsequent employment in other counties,” he said.

Oparanya at the same time insisted that the council was never consulted on the return to work formula which was signed between the Ministry of Health and the Kenya Union of Clinical Officers on January 1, 2021.

“Whereas we do not disagree with some of the provisions in the formula we are aware that an increase in any allowances has a budget implication to the counties. This also requires the necessary approvals by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) and commitment by the National Treasury that they will provide these resources to the County Governments,” he said.

The nurses and clinical officers downed their tools last year over concerns that include failure by the government to provide them with adequate Personal Protective Equipment.  

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