Nurses and clinical officers in Murang’a County have joined colleagues from other counties and downed tools to press for better terms from the devolved administration.
The health workers have been offering services in the past two weeks despite a national strike which was announced by their union officials.
Kenyan National Union of Nurses (KNUN) Murang’a branch chairman Kenneth Kihato castigated the county government for making empty promises on challenges the health workers faced.
Kihato observed that nurses and clinical officers who were employed under the Universal Health Care (UHC) have not received their salaries for the last seven months. He said the workers have been putting their lives at risk of contracting coronavirus blaming the county government for not providing standard personal protection equipment (PPE).
“The facemasks we have been issued with are not of the required standard to be used by frontline workers in fight against covid-19. It’s a shame some of the masks can only protect one from dust,” he added.
Those employed on a permanent basis decried that they have not been paid for three months.
“Lack of salary has subjected the majority of us to suffering. We have nothing to offer our families and the government wants us to continue working,” posed Kihato.
A spot check by KNA at Murang’a Level-5 hospital revealed scores of patients waiting for treatment at benches with no one ready to serve them.
James Ndung’u said he arrived at the facility at 7.30 am to receive treatment only to find no doctor to attend to him.
“With the pain I am experiencing, I will be forced to go back home. I have no money to enable me to seek treatment in a private hospital,” lamented Ndung’u.
The health workers accused the devolved administration of employing nurses and clinical officers on contract basis terming the move as a way to blackmail those under contract.
“Employing health workers on contract basis is a way to blackmail them and pay them meager salaries. We will not allow this and we are not going back to work until our grievances are addressed sufficiently,” warned Kihato.
They claimed that they lost two of their colleagues who contracted covid-19 while in line of duty.
Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (KUCO) Murang’a branch secretary Wangai Kahando said they had given dialogue a chance but the effort yielded nothing adding their colleagues in other counties started the strike 15 days ago.
“As health workers we demand for enhanced risk allowance considering we are putting our lives at risk while handling Covid-19 patients,” added Kahando.
On Friday, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe ordered health workers on strike to resume work or be sacked. Kagwe stated that the court had issued an order directing the workers to go back to work and allow relevant stakeholders to look into their pertinent grievances.
By Bernard Munyao