Services in all public hospitals in Tharaka-Nithi County on Wednesday have been disrupted after nurses downed their tools protesting a delay in paying them their January salaries.
This is the eighteenth time that nurses in the county are boycotting duty since health was devolved.
Addressing journalists in Chuka Town on Wednesday, Kenya National Union of Nurses (Knun) Tharaka-Nithi branch chairman Fabiano Marigu said they will only resume duty once everybody is paid.
He said the county government has not responded to their letter asking for an explanation for the delay.
“We have decided to down tools as a way of compelling our employer to release our pay,” said Mr Marigu.
He said the union entered into a written agreement with the county stating that all salaries should be paid by the 30th of every month and in case of a delay, a prior notice should be given.
He added that they are also demanding issuance of personal numbers and payslips.
Contacted, Tharaka-Nithi Governor Samuel Ragwa said he has already borrowed money from other sectors to pay the nurses.
He accused nurses of boycotting duty before consulting with the employer.
“We have already made arrangements for their salaries because currently the county does not have money,” said Mr Ragwa.
He added that the nurses’ union leaders were politically influenced by his opponents to paralyse health services.
“These frequent strikes are not genuine because even other county workers have not been paid,” said the governor.
Nation.co.ke has established that the Knun leaders were divided over the strike with some arguing that their colleagues were on some politicians’ payroll.
Some nurses, who sought anonymity for fear of victimisation by the rest, said they were not consulted by their union leaders before calling for the strike.
“We only received a short text message calling for the strike,” said a nurse working at Chuka County Referral Hospital.
A spot check by the Nation also established that no services are being offered in all public hospitals across the county.