EDITORIAL: Drop hardline positions and resolve nurses strike

Nurses asked the Council of Governors to consider dialogue. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Nurses asked the Council of Governors to consider dialogue. FILE PHOTO | NMG  

That a nationwide strike called by nurses has dragged on for nearly four months is a big indictment of the conduct of our public affairs.

This is because nothing hurts the ordinary citizens directly more than inability to access basic health services from government hospitals.

It is now more than three months since the strike began and it is only proper that the matter is resolved to enable a resumption of normalcy in public health facilities.

Nurses play a critical role in the provision of health services and their absence from work has greatly crippled the proper functioning of this all important sector.

We urge both parties in the dispute to engage in clear-headed negotiations and avoid hardline positions that only worsen an already terrible situation.

Such is the restraint that the Council of Governors, which has threatened to sack the striking nurses, should exercise.

The nurses’ union, which has vowed to press on with the industrial action, must also be ready to review its position.

This is because taking hard positions is unlikely to resolve the impasse despite the agreement that this is a crisis that needs a quick solution.

By sacking the nurses, counties run the risk of postponing a problem that is likely to recur in the near future.

It must be remembered that doctors went on a similar strike that only ended on March 14 after they reached a deal with the government. We must warn that prolonging this crisis only risks spreading its effects with even more disastrous consequences.

That the Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (KUCO) have also warned of possible industrial action to press for better terms of service is a clear indication that remuneration is problematic in the public healthcare system.

It is a matter that cannot be swept under the carpet just for convenience, but must be tackled head-on.  

The Health ministry and the Council of Governors should review work conditions and pay issues for staff serving in all public hospitals to ensure their grievances are addressed. Human life is sacred and nobody should die because of work disputes.