Governors: We won’t sign nurses’ pay deal

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By NATION TEAM
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Governors have said they will not approve a pay increase demanded by nurses – currently on day 10 of a nationwide strike – due to the large sum of money involved.

The county bosses on Tuesday said the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) to pay the 26,000 nurses will burden the taxpayer, adding that the demands are untenable.

Council of Governors (CoG) Health Committee chairman Jack Ranguma said the county bosses were already feeling the pinch of huge expenses occasioned by demands by doctors whose strike was called off following an agreement to increase their pay in March 2017.

Mr Ranguma said it would cost the taxpayer Sh40.3 billion to implement the nurses’ CBA  in the next four years.

“If we agree to go by the CBA, then it means that we would be paying around Sh10 billion annually. This is far too much. We have other bills to take care of, not nurses and doctors alone,” Kisumu Governor Ranguma said.

Nurses, on their part, have maintained that they want the CBA, which spells out better terms of employment, signed.

Mr Maurice Opetu, Kenya National Union of Nurses (Knun) acting secretary-general, has said the nurses will only resume work after the agreement with governors is signed and deposited in court.

According to the draft CBA, nurses are demanding monthly allowances totalling to Sh25,400 each.

These include Sh15,400 health risk allowance, Sh5,000 extraneous allowance and Sh5, 000 responsibility allowance. They also want a Sh50,000 uniform allowance paid annually.

But the Salaries and Remuneration Commission, which must approve the salary demands before they are effected, has said it will not do so as the drafters of the CBA ignored its advice.

Nurses protest at Freedom Corner behind the Coast Provincial General Hospital in Mombasa County on June 13, 2017. PHOTO| WACHIRA MWANGI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Nurses protest at Freedom Corner behind the Coast Provincial General Hospital in Mombasa County on June 13, 2017. PHOTO| WACHIRA MWANGI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

At the same time, the CoG has asked all counties to enter into agreements with faith-based and private hospitals to provide essential services such as maternity care.

The Memorandum of Understanding with these facilities is cited as one of the four other strategies for the county principals to engage in to “ensure continuity of health services.”

Other terms are contracting nurses to continue providing services as may be necessary, to provide security to nurses currently working in health facilities, and lastly, nursing managers and those in-charge are expected to continue providing services at the health care facilities.

This is according to a letter seen exclusively by the Nation. The letter is from the chairman of CoG Josphat Nanok to his peers.

Even then, health services in Nandi County remained paralysed.

The county’s Knun branch secretary-general Amos Ng’etich said the strike will go on until a deal is reached.

“We want the county government to uniformly tackle the issue of pending promotions and increase of allowances for our members,” said Mr Ng’etich.

In Trans Nzoia, Knun secretary- general Willy Sifuna disclosed that the union has held discussions with doctors to discharge all patients.

“Midnight was the last notice we gave and we are waiting for patients to be discharged, then we go to the streets,” said Mr Sifuna.

Patients seeking treatment at the Nakuru Level 5 hospital on June 13,2017. PHOTO | JOHN NJOROGE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Patients seeking treatment at the Nakuru Level 5 hospital on June 13,2017. PHOTO | JOHN NJOROGE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

However, at the Kitale County Referral Hospital, Medical Superintendent Dr Emmanuel Wanjala said the nurses have been working.

Dr Wanjala said the nurses’ demands for promotion and improved working conditions were addressed by the Trans Nzoia county government.

In Kilifi County, public hospitals remained deserted on Tuesday as the nurses’ strike continued to bite.

At the main emergency centre at Kilifi County Hospital, gates remained closed.

In Mombasa, a planned demonstration by nurses aborted after a handful of them reported back to work.

A spot check by the Nation revealed some nurses had reported to work, but they were not wearing their uniforms.

In Tharaka Nithi, the county government has appealed a Labour Court’s decision compelling it to pay nurses Sh25 million as outstanding salaries and allowances.

The devolved unit had suspended the nurses for downing their  tools in a past strike, a move that was declared illegal by Justice Byram Ongaya.

Reports by Angela Oketch, Eunice Kilonzo, Philip Bwayo, Gerald Bwisa, Kazungu Samuel, Winnie Atieno, and Joseph Wangui

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