The Star (Nairobi)

28 February 2014

Kenya: Mombasa Health Workers Threaten Strike Over Pay

THE Mombasa County health workers have threatened to go on strike on Monday next week over unpaid two months salaries. Yesterday more than 1,500 health workers said the Mombasa government has not paid them their January and February salaries.

Through the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union, the workers said the county government has proven to be unable to handle the health function Speaking to journalists outside the Mombasa county assembly buildings, KMPDU national deputy secretary general Abidan Mwachi said they will not listen to any further excuses.

"The last time these people were paid was on December 20, last year. You can imagine the problems they have been subjected to," he said.

He said they have not been paid their uniform allowances, salaries among other arrears that amount to over Sh10 million. Mwachi said it is unfortunate that they are being treated as causal labourers by the Mombasa county government officials.

He said they are now being asked to produce their identity cards and staff numbers to facilitate payments which are supposed to be deposited directly into their accounts. "Someone who has worked for over 20 years is now being asked to produce an ID to get paid, they are treating us like casual labourers," he said.

He said when they protested against the devolution of health function to the counties, governors were up on their feet saying they could manage it. "They fought for its and it is now crumbling before their faces as they cannot manage the health sector," said Mwachi. He said the county government has remained mum over the issue they have raised.

The county health director of health, Dr Khadija Shikelly yesterday had a hard time of assuring the health workers that everything will be resolved. She assured the workers that a team will be formed to go and represent their grievances to the authorities.

However, the Mombasa chief officer finance department Abdulwahab Mbarak has dispel the allegations that they workers are planning to strike over unpaid salaries. Through a press dispatch to media house, the officer said only a section of the staff has not received their salaries but efforts are made to resolve it.

He said the county received data from the payroll system in Nairobi in the third week of January with names, bank details and the account number for preparation of salaries. "Indeed we paid the workers as per the information received but the money bounced back. After consultations, we discovered that there was an error in the account number that was given to us," he said.

He said they are they are now collecting the correct data and some staff will be paid in In December health workers staged a nationwide strike protesting against the devolution of health sector into the counties.

They also demanded for the formation of the Health Service Commission which will make it possible for health to remain a mandate of the national government. However, governors throughout the country said they have the capacity to handle health function among others which are yet to be devolved.

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