Services have resumed in all public health facilities in Taita-Taveta County after the county government agreed to pay salaries and other dues to health workers without delays.
The suspension of the strike is a big relief to members of public who were denied crucial services by health workers who downed their tools last month protesting delays of their salaries.
Mr. Reuben Matolo, the secretary of the inter-unions, said they had not officially called off the strike but had only suspended it to allow health and finance department to work on their demands.
Speaking at Wundanyi on Wednesday evening, Mr. Matolo said the medics had shown their commitment to their work by agreeing to return to their work stations. He said the county government should not betray that trust.
“We have agreed to tell our members to go back to work. The county should not take advantage of our good gestures and fail to honor this agreement,” he said.
The strike had brought together members of Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU), Kenya County Government Workers Union, Kenya Health Professionals Society, Union of Civil Servants and Kenya Union of Laboratory Technicians.
The medics had complained of habitual delays of their salaries, lack of promotions and failure of the county government to remit statutory deductions. They also complained of lack of comprehensive insurance cover and failure to pay casual workers.
Mr. Matolo said hundreds of medics were suffering and being subjected to embarrassment due to pending bills. Over seven members have been blacklisted with Credit Reference Bureau.
It also emerged that Afya Sacco was demanding over Sh26 million that the county had failed to remit as loan payment deductions for members.
“We went on strike because we had very legitimate grievances that the county had promised to honor,” he said.
Deputy Governor Majala Mlagui expressed her joy over the suspension of the strike stating it had taken toll on the county. She blamed the national government treasury for late disbursement of money which in turn led to late payment of salaries.
“We are committed to improving the welfare of our health workers but the national treasury is always late to send the money,” she said.
She however said the county would honor its promise to the workers to avoid further strikes. Amongst the contentious issues that were agreed on include payment of salaries by 5th of every month and remitting of NHIF deductions by 9th every month.
The two sides also agreed that promotional arrears for workers will be calculated and paid by 19th October. All casual workers will be paid by 31st of October.
The agreement was negotiated by Mr. Richard Gona, from the ministry of labour and David Kitwa from National Employment Authority. It was also attended by County Executive Members for finance Davis Mwangoma and Daniel Makoko for health.
By Wagema Mwangi