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Taita Taveta County fires medics as health sector remains paralyzed

Taita Taveta County government has made good its threat to sack hundreds of medical workers who had gone on strike to demand for better payments and improved working conditions.

Union officials confirmed that 310 nurses and 98 clinical officers had received sacking letters from the county government and more letters were expected to be received by medical workers in the coming days.

The Kenya National Union of Nurses Branch Secretary-General Reuben Matolo confirmed on Wednesday that his members were receiving termination letters but termed the act as illegal and meant to intimidate them.

“This industrial action remains lawful and we are not going to be intimidated,” he said.  There are already plans to move to court to challenge the sacking.

Early this month, the County Secretary Liversen Mghendi and Chief Officer in the health department Philomena Nkirote had asked the medics to resume duty after being on strike since December last year.

The sacking letter has asked the health workers to hand over all property and assets in the hands of the medics to their immediate supervisors.

There were also claims that the sacked nurses were struck off from the payroll as the county announced plans to hire 400 nurses to replace the sacked ones.

County Executive Member for Health John Mwangeka said the County Public Service Board has already launched a recruitment drive that was expected to be completed by next week to ensure the health services in medical facilities were not interrupted.

“We want the services in our hospitals to resume as soon as possible because members of the public are suffering,” he said.

Hundreds of medical staff including nurses, clinical officers and laboratory technicians downed their tools last month and said they would not resume work until the county government met their demands.

Amongst the demands cited included provision of PPEs, giving comprehensive medical cover to the medics, promotions and payment of pending allowances.

There were also demands to pay community health workers who had been very critical in contact tracing for potential people infected with covid-19.

However, the county government was adamant and said that most of their conditions had been met and the remaining ones had cost implications that needed to be handled at the national level by the national government and Council of Governors.

By Wagema Mwangi

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