Counties

Nurses union threatens to fine members for abandoning strike

Kenya National Union of Nurses (Knun) national officials address a press conference at Uchumi house in Nairobi on September 23, 2017. PHOTO | COLLINS OMULO | NMG
Kenya National Union of Nurses (Knun) national officials address a press conference at Uchumi house in Nairobi on September 23, 2017. PHOTO | COLLINS OMULO | NMG 

A union has threatened to fine nurses in Nyeri who have gone back to work despite the ongoing strike by the medical workers.

Kenya National Union of Nurses (Knun) Nyeri branch secretary Beatrice Nduati said each nurse who is working will be fined 2.5 per cent of their monthly salary for the next four years.

She said the fine deductions will take effect immediately the Collective Bargaining Agreement is signed and registered in court.

“When the CBA is signed, nurses who have already returned to work will be charged 2.5 per cent agency fee as punishment for defying the union’s directive,” she said.

CBA signing

A total of 1,000 nurses in Nyeri went on strike in June, as part of a countrywide strike, to demand the signing of a collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

The CBA is meant to address the nurses' pay, working conditions and promotions.

While majority of the nurses in the county are still on strike, some have gone back to work.

“All the nurses who are members of the union should participate in the strike and not return to work until the strike is officially called off,” she said, adding that the nurses should follow the union’s leadership.

Ms Nduati also revealed that the nurses could be sidelined in benefiting from the fruits of the CBA once it is signed and registered in court.

“We wanted them to miss out on the benefits of CBA that we are on the streets fighting for but we will charge them the agency fee which is more lenient,” she added.

Five months

The nurses have been on a countrywide strike for the last five months since June this year.

However, many of Nyeri's public hospitals, including the referral hospital, have been operational despite being overwhelmed by patients from neighbouring counties.

Patients have been sharing beds in both the male and female wards save for the maternity wing.

But the nurses say they will only call off the strike when their secretary-general Seth Panyako calls off the strike.

“The governor has the goodwill to end the strike but some governors are frustrating them to make sure the stalemate continues,” said Ms Nduati.

Cannot negotiate

She added that the nurses cannot negotiate at the county level because the strike is nationwide.

The governor Wahome Gakuru has said he would not fire the nurses and instead would engage them in negotiations.

Dr Gakuru said he would appease the striking nurses through dialogue rather than firing them.