The Taita-Taveta County government has termed as illegal a planned strike by thousands of medics in the region who are protesting non-payment of their salary arrears.
The strike which was set to start on Monday will see all public health facilities shut down barely a month after another strike had paralysed the sector.
Speaking on Saturday, the Deputy Governor Majala Mlagui said the planned strike was illegal because it was violating the terms of a return to work formulae that was entered into between the medics and county government.
“There is already a meeting set on Tuesday by a mediation team to address their issues. They should first wait and see the outcome of the meeting,” she said.
The meeting is between the health department and officials of several unions representing the medics in the region.
The Officials from labour and employment office are expected to mediate between the two teams.
Members of Kenya National Union of Nurses, (KNUN) Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU), Kenya County Government Workers Union, Kenya Health Professional Society and Kenya Union of Laboratory Technicians are expected to join the strike.
The Acting County Executive Committee Member on Health, Daniel Makoko urged the medics not to strike assuring them that all their grievances will be addressed urgently.
He said that all their monies are factored in the supplementary budget and the second phase was to implement the return-to-work formulae to make sure all their dues were paid.
“We are actively engaging the union members to make sure all their monies are paid. We urge them not to strike because we have a scheduled meeting where a solution will be found,” he said.
The Chairperson for the county assembly on Health, Frank Marre said the supplementary budget had factored in all the medics’ financial grievances which he said would be paid in full.
He warned that the cost of strike was too big and the effect would be felt by the ordinary citizens.
Marre urged the union officials to urge their members to report to work and wait for the outcome of Tuesday meeting.
“The budget was passed and money set aside for their salaries and arrears. What we now need is a payment plan for the money to get to them,” he said.
Reuben Matolo, secretary for KNUN in the county, said the county had signed the agreement that allowed medics to go on strike from November 10 should their demands not be met.
He said that the medics had exhibited goodwill by agreeing to resume work since October to allow health department meet its financial obligations towards them.
“When we called off the earlier strike, we said our demands should be met by November 10 failure to which we will strike without a notice,” he said.
The workers are demanding arrears of over Sh.60 million and four million shillings for casual workers. They are also calling for hiring of more workers to enhance service delivery.
In a bid to boost the health sector, the county allocated Sh.100 million for Moi County Referral Hospital, and Sh.50 million for the three sub-county hospitals in Mwatate, Taveta and Wundanyi.
There is also an allocation of Sh.2.9 million for employing 50 nurses and 20 clinical officers who have been working on contract.
By Wagema Mwangi