17 August 2014

Kenya: Governors Say Not to Blame for Late Health Workers' Pay

Nairobi — Governors have rejected blame over the looming strike by health workers over delayed payment of salaries in various counties.

According to the Council of Governors Human Resources Committee, majority of the counties have already paid their staff, with a few scheduled to pay next week.

The chairman of the committee James Ongwae said; "Our analysis confirms that so far 42 counties have paid some, even through private arrangements in order to allay the health workers' suffering. The remaining five have committed to pay within the next two days."

He further lashed out at the Central Organisation of Trade Unions for initiating the health workers strike without considering the factors that led to a delay in payment of the salaries.

"We are surprised that Mr (Francis) Atwoli can jump to the option of calling for strikes even without seeking to apprise himself of the material circumstances informing the July salaries in the counties."

"To merrily and casually jump on to the bandwagon of calling for strikes and demonising devolution is to fail to provide leadership."

The committee further said the delay in payment of July salaries was not only limited to the health sector, but cut across various sectors of government.

The Governors were irked by failure of the government to recognise its shortfall and take responsibility for the delay.

Ongwae regretted the government's silence saying; "it is surprising that the national government has elected to remain silent on this challenge, while knowing very well where the challenge resides. In so doing, the national government has lent its voice to sustaining and satisfying an untruth."

While hosting a luncheon for shop stewards at the COTU headquarters on Saturday, Atwoli urged the government to review the devolution of services especially healthcare in order to curb issues of industrial action saying Governors should not be charged with the responsibility of paying health workers.

Owing to the delay in remittance of July salaries, the Governors' Human Resource committee warned that if the national and devolved governments failed to resolve the intrigues surrounding devolution of services, the issue being faced at the moment by the counties would recur years on end.

Despite the challenges the Governors were facing, they expressed their support for devolution adding they would closely work with health personnel, staff and professionals in the counties to ensure service delivery.

They urged Kenyans to be patient and allow devolution to undergo teething problems which is common to any nascent system.

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