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Union faults Mailu remarks on talks to end nurses’ strike

Robin Obino @obinorobin

Kenya National Union of Nurses (Knun) yesterday contradicted claims by Health CS Cleopa Mailu that talks to end the five-month-long nurses strike were at an advanced stage. Knun Secretary General Seth Panyako accused the CS of ‘lying to Kenyans’ and further saying that both the National government and governors “are frustrating” the deal agreed upon in March.

The Health ministry yesterday claimed that consultations between the Council of Governors (CoG) and the nurses’ union were at an advanced stage and that at 60 per cent of the health workers had already resumed duty. “We are holding consultative meetings with the health workers and are expecting them to be back in wards immediately they sign the return-to-work formula,” Mailu said.

He was speaking during the launch of a ‘re-capture’ campaign aimed at immunising children born during the industrial strike. He also said the number of mothers dying of childbirth-related complications had doubled in the last four months.

Mailu further urged the striking nurses to immediately resume duty to avert the health crisis. In a quick rejoinder, however, Knun maintained there were no talks in progress between the union and the government or the council of governors.

Knun also claimed they had not received an invitation to that effect. “The Knun finds these statement untrue and a betrayal of the last meeting agreements reached by the parties and which was held between the union and the two levels of government under the arrangement of the CoG chairman Josphat Nanok,” Panyako told journalists yesterday.

He maintained that the striking medical workers would only resume duty after the agreement with governors is signed and deposited in court. According to the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) agreed on in 2013, nurses are demanding monthly allowances of Sh25,400 each.

The allowances include Sh15,400 health risk allowance, Sh5,000 extraneous allowances, and Sh5,000 responsibility allowance. The health workers also want a Sh50,000 uniform allowance, paid once annually. But the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC), which must approve the salary demands before they are effected, maintains it will not do so as the drafters of the CBA ignored its advice.

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