The health crisis is set to deepen after nurses issued the government an ultimatum to pay them service allowance as agreed in Collective Bargain Agreement (CBA) or down tools on February 1, 2017.
Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) yesterday said the government and counties have reneged on the pact they signed as part of go back to work formula after their strike hence will effectively resume it if they fail to honour their end of bargain.
The nurses want the government to pay them the Sh 20, 000 service allowance that they had agreed on.
KNUN Secretary General Seth Panyako issued a stern warning that unless their demands are met by the end of the month the union shall mobilise all its members in entirety to abdicate duty as from February.
“The state and Salaries Remuneration Commission (SRC) have been playing a cat and mouse game with nurses on the CBA and no end of tunnel seems in sight This is utter disrespect of public servants who have given their all, hence we have decided to beat them in their own game,” said Panyako.
“Nurses have punched above their weight in ensuring hospitals and dispensaries across the country are running in the absence of doctors. They have been resolute in discharging duties to sustain health services in counties but seems they cannot be acknowledged,” he added.
His remarks effectively mean, if the nurses make good their threat, all hospitals in the country will grind to a halt after doctors abandoned duty more than a month ago.
However Bomet and Lamu counties will be spared from industrial action after the nurses’ allowances were factored in their budgets.
Panyako disclosed the ‘all health workers allowance’ that has been mooted by the government should not substitute the nurse’s service allowance but serve as a top up.
“The allowance was agreed collectively amongst health workers across the board. However nursing service allowance seeks to compensate hardships and environment they work in hence the new pact should not replace the former,” Panyako said.
The Secretary General further directed all nurses in the country from now hence forth not to perform any laboratory services until the government certifies them to conduct such.
An angered Panyako issued a stern warning to nurses that the union will not come to aid or stand in solidarity with any nurse caught or arraigned in court for conducting such services.
“We are neither trained nor protected by law to undertake laboratory services. The government has always dilly dallied in ensuring nurses are qualified to offer such services hence we are withdrawing our members even in the absence of doctors or emergency cases,” he said.
Panyako’s sentiments on laboratory services came in the wake of an incident in Kwale whereby a nurse was arraigned in court for performing an HIV test on a pregnant woman, an emergency undertaking in the absence of striking doctors.