3 December 2012

Kenya: KNH Nurses Continue Work As Colleagues Strike

Nurses at the Kenyatta National Hospital on Monday ignored a nationwide strike call that was being spearheaded by the National Nurses Association of Kenya (NNAK) to push the government to register a nurses' union.

This was a setback for the association which has been seeking support from nurses at the hospital whose majority are members of the Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotels, Educational Institutions, Hospitals and Allied Workers (KUDHEIHA), and remain opposed to the strike.

Most of the people who visited the hospital told Capital FM News that nurses were on duty and that business continued normally.

"My mother has been admitted here at the hospital and she is been taken care of very well. There is no problem... they are not on strike," said Samuel Kamau, from Kiambu town.

"At around 2pm the nurses came in the ward where my sister is admitted and they told us to go out as time for visiting the patients was over. I have not seen any sign of a strike in there," said Veronica Wanjiru from Highridge area in Nairobi.

However the NNAK chairman at the hospital Wilson Ochieng claimed that the nurses decided not to join the strike because KNH was a referral hospital and was dealing with sensitive cases of patients but they were on a go-slow.

"We are giving the Government of Kenya 48 hours to register the nurses' union failure to which, Kenyatta National Hospital is going to be paralysed. We have refused to keep giving our money every end month to unions which represent so many other people. Most of the nurses here are being threatened not to go on strike," Ochieng claimed.

The strike has been called by the unregistered NNKA supported by the unregistered Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) to push for the registration of a stand-alone nurses' union, instead of splitting them into different unions.

But it is opposed by the giant KUDHEIHA together with the Union of Kenya Civil Servants (UKCS), which on the other hand represents nurses in public hospitals.

The NNAK national chairman Jeremiah Maina however said the strike had kicked off in other public hospitals with a plan to stage demonstrations on Tuesday.

"The strike is across the country apart from Kenyatta and we are together. Soon I believe the nurses here will join us," Maina said.

However there was confusion in other parts where NNAK claimed the strike was effective, with nurses wondering which side to follow; either the trade unions they remit contributions every month to represent them, or the two associations.

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