14 March 2012

Kenya: Let Leaders Speak With Single Voice

Photo: Capital FM Business/ File photo
Striking health workers defied sack threats and calls to return to work from the Ministry of Medical Services.


HEALTH workers have been on strike since March 1 demanding better working conditions and a pay increase.

Last week Medical Services minister Anyang Nyong'o ordered that 25,000 striking staff be dismissed.

Yesterday Prime Minister Raila Odinga met their representatives and said he would meet ministers for Medical Services, Public Health, Labour and Treasury for a full briefing. He arranged to meet them again on Wednesday. He asked nurses who are still on strike to resume work immediately.

Yesterday President Kibaki jumped into the fray and urged health workers to embrace constructive dialogue whenever there are disagreements instead of making patients suffer. This is a dysfunctional government. Government should be speaking with one voice. Nyong'o is saying the health staff have all been sacked. Raila is saying he will try and improve their package. Kibaki is saying go back to work and then negotiate.

Government should speak with one voice. Either the health workers deserve a better package, or they do not. Government should decide and then stick to its position. Otherwise anarchy will prevail and there will be a wave of copycat strikes as pubic service workers realise that they can exploit differences in government.

Quote of the day: "I have now taken a serious task upon myself and I fear a greater one that is in the power of any man to perform in the given time-but it is too late to go back." - Eli Whitney patented the cotton gin on March 14, 1794.

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