4 December 2012

Kenya: Nurses Against Strike Need Security - Nyong'o

Photo: Capital FM
Strike scene.

Medical Services Minister Anyang' Nyong'o wants security agencies to protect nurses who have refused to join in a nationwide strike that began Monday.

Nyong'o said that striking nurses had issued threats to their colleagues who had ignored the industrial action, even going as far as forcibly removing them from their stations.

"The nurses' leaders who called for the strike have resorted to dirty tricks by going to hospitals to remove nurses who are working. We have received reports of threats for those on duty. I am therefore calling on the security arm of government to intervene urgently and protect the nurses and other health workers who have taken to our advice and are ready to treat Kenyans," said the minister.

Nurses at the Nyanza Provincial General Hospital, Kakamega Provincial General Hospital, Kajiado District Hospital, Mombasa Provincial General Hospital and Machakos General Hospital had reportedly downed their tools following the strike call.

The National Nurses Association of Kenya (NNK) and the unregistered Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) called for a strike a week ago. They have made a number of demands on the government including the registration of the Kenya National Union of Nurses.

Nurses currently belong to various associations and the strike is pushing for the recognition of an umbrella nurses' body to better represent their interests.

Nyong'o had on Saturday asked the nurses representatives who had issued the strike notice to return to the negotiating table.

"Discussions were called following the appointment of a conciliator by the Ministry of Labour and it is therefore important that the ongoing dialogue be given chance."

The strike, Nyong'o reiterated, was illegal given that not all avenues of dialogue have failed.

"The strike is illegal, uncalled for and the government has not closed doors for dialogue and they are welcome to my office for further consultation," he said.

Other demands the NNK and KNUN have made is for an increase in their allowances, the permanent employment of nurses under contract and the hiring of more staff.

The Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) Chief Executive Officer Richard Lesiyampe last week promised to hire more nurses and review salaries following the strike notice.

The referral hospital's nurses representatives therefore assured they would not be joining in the strike given Lesiyampe's promises. They did however complain that some nurses had been in the same job grade for more than 10 years.

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