8 January 2013

Kenya: Nurses Call Off Strike

Photo: B Wolff/UN
Nurse attends to a patient (file photo): Striking nurses have defied an order to call off the strike.

Striking nurses have called off their nationwide strike that has paralysed operations in most public hospitals for four weeks.

The government had declared the strike illegal and had ordered the nurses to return to work.

Last week judge Maureen Onyango of the Industrial court ordered the nurses to resume work declaring their strike illegal. Meanwhile, more than 200 clinical officers have moved seeking to stop various ministries from deducting their salaries and submitting them to the Union of Kenya Civil Servants.

Under a certificate of urgency, Brian Were, Jacinta Ireri and Stella Wangari, acting on behalf of their colleagues, claim they have never subscribed to the Union of Kenya Civil Servants individually or through any registered agreement.

"There is substantial number of us in private employment or practice and do not belong to any trade union as there is none that caters for our interest as professional clinical officers," they said.

They claim they have been deprived of their right of association by being denied an opportunity to register a trade union of their choice, the Union of Kenya Clinical Officers, as guaranteed by the constitution. "We are strangers to the Union of Kenya Civil Servants and we cannot be forced to remain in any trade union," they said.

The three argue that they have exclusive rights to freely form, join or participate in the activities and programmes of a trade union of their choice and to choose to leave the trade union when they desire to do so.

Those sued include the Attorney General, the Ministers of Labour, Public Health Medical Services, the Registrar of Trade Unions, Union of Kenya Civil servants and the Kenya Union of Domestic,

Hotels and Hospital workers. The said deductions of their salaries have persisted despite having written to the ministries asking them to cease from making the illegal deductions and remitting the same to the union.The case will be heard today.

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