Labour and Employment Court in Nyeri has quashed a petition by Murang’a nurses, seeking orders to compel the County Government to pay them dues during the period they participated in a national strike.
Justice Nzioka Makau while delivering the judgment said the nurses did not enjoin council of governors in the suit, thus the petitioners misunderstood the law to mean the council supervises functions of governors.
More than 480 nurses employed by Murang’a County Government last year sued the county government after it failed to pay them salaries and allowances for the period they were on strike.
The nurses argued that in return to work formula signed by their national union officials and the council of governors, nurses who participated in a 5-month strike were to get their full salaries.
They argued that the county government ignored the return to work formula, subjecting them to suffering after lack of payment for five months.
For the five months, each nurse was demanding accrued salaries amounting to between Sh400, 000 and Sh500, 000.
Makau in his ruling said council of governors is merely an instrument for inter county cooperation and the fact that there was an agreement between CoG and the nurses is not binding on the service board and the governor.
“The devolved system of government only recognizes the existence of the second house of Parliament, the Senate as the body that calls governors to account,” ruled the Judge.
During the proceedings, the county government represented by lawyer Josephat Kimwere argued that the strike was not protected by law and was as such illegal.
“The petitioners engaged in an illegal strike at their own peril and cannot therefore get protection from the council of governors,” Kimwere maintained.
The nurses crippled health services through a countrywide strike called by their union; Kenya National Union of Nurses which was declared unprotected by the council of governors.
The nurses, led by their officials vowed to appeal the ruling arguing that nurses from other counties were paid their dues after they resumed work.
Murang’a Governor, Mwangi wa Iria maintained that no payment will be made for the period the nurses were on strike, saying members of the public suffered a lot while seeking for medical attention.
By Bernard Munyao