The Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) Secretary General (SG), Francis Atwoli has asked the Ministry of Labour and Council of Governors (COG) to renegotiate with nurses and come up with a back to work formula to end the suffering of patients across the country.
Atwoli said the nurses were acting within their rights to go on strike, adding that the manner in which the ministry and COG have handled the matter was a shame to the country.
The nurses, he said, have a valid Common Bargaining Agreement (CBA) which was signed by the COG but the county governments have not honoured it prompting the strike.
He accused Labour Cabinet Secretary (CS), Ukur Yatan of incompetence, saying it was uncalled for to suck the President into the impasse which could have otherwise been resolved by labour officers within the affected counties.
“The president must not be involved in small matters like this that can be handled by the ministry. This just shows the ineptness of the Cabinet Secretary to handle matters of this magnitude,” he said.
To put an end to the strike, Atwoli asked COG and Labour Ministry to engage Kenya National Union of Nurses officials and relook at the 2017 nurses CBA with a view of staggering the implementation or developing a fresh one.
He castigated the ultimatum issued by President Uhuru Kenyatta and COG Chairman, Wycliffe Oparanya, saying the move was a shame for a country that has rich labour relations spanning decades.
“The Constitution in article 41 is very clear on workers right to go on strike. Therefore issuing threats and sanctions is uncalled for. It shows an employer who wants free labour,” said the trade unionist.
Atwoli said COTU and the Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) were willing to assist the government engage the nurses to find an amicable solution to the current standoff.
“This is a very small issue and I can assure you it cannot take me more than ten minutes to conclude and nurses go back to work,” he said.
Speaking on Thursday in Kisumu during the inauguration of the new Board of Management (BOG) for Tom Mboya Labour College, Atwoli further asked the Labour Commissioner to perform his duties and ensure that action was taken against any entity that fails to implement CBAs to avert similar strikes.
“The Labour Commissioner has powers even on this matter to arrest and prosecute those who have gone against the nurses’ CBA,” he said.
Atwoli said the new Tom Mboya Labour College has been tasked to develop a strategic plan that would link the college to Turin College of Labour in Italy and other established labour institutions across the world to offer quality training.
He asked the Ministry of Labour to enroll labour officers at the institution for refresher courses to enhance their capacity to deal with industrial matters.
By Chris Mahandara