Union urges governors to pay nurses better to avert strikes

Nurses want county governments to improve pay for health workers to avert strikes that have plagued the sector.

Through their union boss, Mr Seth Panyako, they said county governments need to harmonise their pay.

“Governors, through their council, should move with speed and negotiate a common bargaining agreement with nurses. Failure to do so will result in chaos because nurses will continue striking,” he said.

Mr Panyako cited Homa Bay, Siaya, Kakamega, Busia and Nairobi counties as those lagging behind in improving the nurses’ welfare.

He said while other counties were busy improving health services, others were arbitrarily sending home staff on flimsy grounds.

Mr Panyako was speaking in Kisii County during a nurses’ meeting at Gusii Stadium to mark International Week of Nurses.

The annual event is usually held to commemorate the life of Florence Nightingale.

Ms Nightingale was a celebrated English social reformer and statistician, and the founder of modern nursing.

Mr Panyako commended Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua for employing an additional 800 nurses to bridge the gap in services.

“Other governors need to emulate him and employ more nurses in order to ease the biting shortage,” he said.

He commended Kisii, Kisumu and northeastern counties for promoting nurses.

KISII COUNTY AN EXCEPTION

“Kisii County has been the exception in matters of labour negotiations since its workers have never gone on strike.

“We wonder why other counties are always engaged in standoffs with health sector workers over terms of service. They need to borrow a leaf from [Kisii County] Governor Ongwae on how to handle pay disputes with health staff,” he said.

He asked the National Assembly to go slow on enacting laws aimed at restricting the administration of health facilities to doctors.

“We will challenge the Bill in court if it is passed into law,” he said, adding that some health facilities had been run down by the same doctors the Bill was rooting for.

“The rot we are currently experiencing in the health sector is mostly due to the misguided notion in the government that doctors make the best administrators,” he said.

Mr Ongwae urged nurses to have a common entity that champions their rights.

“This will benefit nurses more instead of their current tactic of negotiating with the government for the improvement of nurses’ terms of service in a fragmented manner,” Mr Ongwae said.

He, however, said dialogue was the best tool in resolving industrial disputes.

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