Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) has called for county government to terminate the hiring of nurses on contract basis terming it as a gross violation of their right to fair employment practices.
Maurice Opetu, Deputy Secretary General of KNUN, said nurses on contracts were being subjected to several injustices including denial of promotions, arbitrary sackings and unjustified transfers by the county government.
He stated that the union would strongly push for stoppage of hiring nurses on contract and ensure all nurses were employed as permanent staff.
Speaking in Taita-Taveta University on Friday during the national celebrations of International Nurses Week, Mr. Opetu said nurses were the most overworked medical staff yet they remained unappreciated by the county governments.
He added that counties that valued nurses’ work boasted very efficient health systems that promoted welfare of its people.
“We are demanding termination of contracts for nurses as they have been used to oppress our members,” he said.
He alleged that several county governments were using contractual agreements to get the best from nurses at minimum expense. He cited Kisumu and Taita-Taveta as some of the counties which had many nurses on contract.
The event was also attended by Machakos Governor Dr. Alfred Mutua, Taita-Taveta Deputy Governor Majala Mlagui, county government officials for health and union officials from the 47 counties.
Opetu further defended members of KNUN from accusations of medical malpractices, adding that nurses behind such activities were quacks hired through dubious means by officials of the county.
He stated that members of his union were professionals who took their responsibilities seriously. “Nurses are competent and able professionals who uphold the highest values at work. Those messing up are quacks employed through cronyism,” he claimed.
Dr. Mutua called for improvement of nurses’ welfare stating they needed to be appreciated for the vital services they offered the country, noting that Machakos County had prioritized the welfare of nurses and had paid all their dues on time.
The governor said in 2015 he had promoted 400 nurses and hired an additional 800 in 2016. He disclosed that in 2019, his government planned to employ 1,500 more nurses to boost health services in the region.
He termed the challenges faced by nurses as symptomatic of a country in the foundational stages of development. “We have not yet matured as a country as we are at the foundational stages of growth. That is why we are struggling to find our way, thus lack appreciation for our professional workforce,” Dr. Mutua said.
The nurses also said they wanted the formation of an all-inclusive nursing council whose membership would include KNUN officials. They also called for respect for Comprehensive Bargaining Agreement by county governments stating that such documents were legally binding.
Mlagui said the county was keen to cultivate good working relations with the nurses including improving their terms.