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Nakuru nurses return to work on promotion deal

A group of Nakuru nurses takes to the streets last month in a push for better employment terms. The health workers have returned to work on a promise of promotion by the end of January. PHOTO | FILE
A group of Nakuru nurses takes to the streets last month in a push for better employment terms. The health workers have returned to work on a promise of promotion by the end of January. PHOTO | FILE 

Nurses in Nakuru have resumed duties after they signed a return-to-work formula ending their five-week strike that paralysed the county’s health sector.

The region’s chapter of Kenya National Union of Nurses officials led by chairperson Cyprian Odero called off the strike on Wednesday evening.

Ms Odero said all the issues that had been raised by members that occasioned the strike had been addressed.

“The county agreed to pay our December salaries and also promised to issue letters of promotion to all the nurses affected as from January 31,” Ms Odero said.

She said according to the agreement reached between the union officials and the county, the letters of interdiction that had been issued by the county will be withdrawn and none of the nurses would be victimised for participating in the strike.

The more than 1,000 nurses went on strike demanding promotions of more than 700 members.
The national nurses union called off their strike on December 13 after a deal with governors, but their Nakuru counterparts continued with work boycott, saying their grievances had not been addressed.

County health executive Mungai Kabii said the county will promote all qualified nurses progressively to avoid future strikes.

Dr Kabii further said that the County was planning to deploy more than 200 relief health workers to mitigate the strike to the 38 dispensaries across the county.

The dispensaries have not been operational due to lack of staff.

“There is a deficiency of health workers in the County, so we hope that by February the various dispensaries will be opened with the help of all the hired health workers,” Dr Kabii said.

The decision to recruit the new workers to fill the positions of health workers who had boycotted work was reached on December 2 after the striking nurses declined talks with a task force formed by Governor Kinuthia Mbugua to address the stalemate.

The County Public Service Board resolved to hire nurses, lab technicians and clinical officers on a seven-month contract.

Dr Kabii further applauded the recommendation by the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA)  that seeks to increase the County’s health budget allocation by 20 per cent, saying that the money will greatly help in solving the staffing problems.

Priority, the county health boss said, would be to increase the medical staff in the already established health facilities.

“If the money comes, and I hope it is not just rhetoric, the first thing I will do is to add more staff. The county needs a lot more than we have,” Dr Kabii stated.

The health sector had a tumultuous end of year in a nationwide strike by nurses. Doctors also downed tools and have been out of work for a month, but on Wednesday they had a meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta in Mombasa.

After the meeting a 40 per cent pay rise was announced, giving the least paid Sh196,989.

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