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Nurses in Bomet join the national nurses’ strike

Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) Bomet branch Monday joined their colleagues in the ongoing nurses’ strike.

The nurses made good their threat to down tools to stall the operations of health services nationally despite President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive to end the nurses’ strike nationally.

The more than 350 nurses drawn from more than 30 health facilities in five sub counties kept off their work places and gathered in Bomet town to kick-off the strike officially in Bomet county on Monday paralyzing health services.

The nurses’ union officials in the county said they patiently relied on promises made by Governor Dr Joyce Laboso’s administration but nothing was forthcoming.

“It has become hide and seek game over our demands between the union and the county officials responsible for health services,” KNUN Bomet branch secretary Mr. Vincent Rono said.

He said the county had taken the window for negotiations for granted.

In December, the nurses called off a strike after two weeks to try and settle their demands with the county through negotiations.

Rono however said the county did not engage them during the time and only started seeking their intention when they issued a strike notice two weeks ago. He said it was absurd that the county was not taking their demands seriously.

“The county does not seem to mind about our demands only running up and down whenever we down tools asking us to resume duty,” said Rono.

“This time round, we will not resume work until everything is sorted,” the secretary said adding that the biggest grievances were resignation, promotion and confirmation of nurses on contract.

Rono stated that their list of demands was nursing services training, improved working environment and uniform allowances for the last three financial years which were yet to be paid out.

Among other demands includes promotion for 151 nurses which was overdue with the county turning a deaf year to the demand.

He lamented that 42 nurses have been serving on contracts for the last six years with the county government not willing to confirm them.

“It is unfair to keep nurses on contract for that period and this time round, we won’t let go until all the demands are met,” Rono stated.

The nurses camped outside health facilities in Bomet health center with many patients left unattended to.

A last minute attempts by the county to avert the strike hit a snag after talks with the nurses’ officials failed to bear fruits.

A meeting between nurses’ officials and Governor Joyce Laboso, CEC in charge of health Dr Joseph Sitonik and Medical Services Chief officer Zeddy Korir told the press in Bomet town that on Friday , the union officials were called upon to meet governor Laboso but they snubbed the gathering only for the county officials to learn from the media that nurses in the region were joining the national strike.

“Our doors are open. We will encourage the union officials to come to our offices for negotiation in a bid to save the lives of many patients and reduce suffering,” Dr Sitonik said.

By Joseph Obwocha

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