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Economy

Nurses down tools in fight for Sh40 billion allowances

Kisii County nurses demonstrate on the streets of Kisii on June 5, 2017. PHOTO | BENSON MOMANYI | NMG
Kisii County nurses demonstrate on the streets of Kisii on June 5, 2017. PHOTO | BENSON MOMANYI | NMG 

Taxpayers will have to fork out an extra Sh40 billion annually to cater for nurses’ allowances if the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) approves a draft collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that failed to avert a strike that began Monday.

This is according to the striking medical workers, who say the amount is minimal when compared to what doctors got after negotiating parties reached a deal that ended a historic 100-day strike in March.

The nurses’ union, with over 45,000 members, claim their draft CBA was concluded early May but that government has avoided its implementation in a bid to shortchange them.

“The Sh40 billion offers very minimal allowances to nurses compared to what doctors got and we are taking nothing less,” said Maurice Opetu, acting secretary-general of the Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) today.

“The strike has just started at a very high voltage and we ask nurses to be strong and prepare for a longer strike until government signs and registers the CBA in court,” he added.

Speaking to the Business Daily, Mr Opetu accused the two levels of government for using the SRC as a scapegoat.

He said KNUN is not going to attend any government meetings to call off the strike unless it is to sign the CBA.

Budget adjustments

The nurses’ allowances include health risks, extraneous, call, uniforms and responsibility allowances.

The Council of governors (CoG) chairman, Josphat Nanok, said the amount will require huge adjustment of budgets for both national and county governments and appealed to nurses to help come up with an amicable solution.

Mr Nanok said they are awaiting SRC’s confirmation of the budget before counties sign the CBA with the nurses’ union.

“Both the national and county governments are following due process to ensure that the CBA is signed and that it shall not have any legal challenges in the registration process,” said Mr Nanok during a media briefing at CoG headquarters in Nairobi.

“The draft CBA as is has huge financial implications as the Sh40.366 billion 442 new proposed nurses' allowance is over and above what was approved in the return to work formula, which is Sh3.4 billion for every financial year,” he added.

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