18 September 2017

Kenya: Counties Start Advertising Nurses' Jobs

County governments have begun advertising the positions of the nurses who are on strike, even as the caregivers vow not to resume duty.

This comes after governors issued a warning last week to take disciplinary action against the nurses who have been boycotting work for the past three months.

On Monday some counties advertised the posts of nursing officers and registered nurses in local dailies.

NEW CONTRACTS

While they have opted to advertise the posts, others have chosen to withdraw the caregivers' salaries.

There are others that have resolved to sack the nurses.

At least two counties - Kirinyaga and Kiambu - have invited interested candidates to apply for the posts.

In a notice in the dailies, the Kirinyaga County Government says: "Successful candidates will be appointed on contract, renewable subject to proven performance."

It advertised 469 vacancies - five nursing officers and 464 registered nurses.

SALARIES

Last week, the Kiambu County Public Service Board announced plans to fill the vacancies left by the striking nurses.

On September 7, Kwale County advertised vacancies for six registered nurses for job group H.

It also advertised six community nurse posts for a six-month contract.

The health workers are pushing for improved pay, better working conditions as well as promotions.

ILLEGAL STRIKE

Council of Governors (CoG) chairman Josphat Nanok, who insists that the ongoing strike is illegal, last week directed the county bosses to take action against the nurses.

Heeding this directive, some county governments in the North Rift have withdrawn the nurses' salaries.

In Embu, Kenya National Union of Nurses county secretary Joseph Ngwasi said several of his colleagues had received text messages from a sub county medical officer, asking them to go to their offices to pick up letters on why they should not be disciplined.

"Threatening nurses with sacking is not a solution to the deep-seated nurses' problems," Mr Ngwasi said.

RESUME WORK

At the same time, other counties are about to sack the striking nurses, making private hospitals in Nandi, Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Kakamega and Bungoma bear the brunt of congestion.

In Nandi County, Governor Stephen Sang said officials are compiling data to establish the number of nurses who were back.

"We will proceed forthwith to engage nurses on contract basis to replace those who deserted duty," Mr Sang said.

In Murang'a, county director for health Wilfred Kanyi said they are set to advertise vacancies for over 400 nurses who defied the CoG order.

TALKS

Tharaka-Nithi Governor Muthomi Njuki has been engaging the nurses in dialogue and has opposed the sacking directive.

Meru, Isiolo and Marsabit governments were yet to give any communication on the fate of the striking nurses.

Half of the nurses in Laikipia County have resumed work voluntarily.

Acting county chief officer in charge of health Donald Mogoi said 235 out of the 460 health workers reported to their work stations Monday.

CLINICAL OFFICERS

Last month, Governor Ndiritu Muriithi convened a meeting with the nurses, where they expressed their willingness to go back to work but were not ready to defy a directive from their union bosses who called the strike.

Elsewhere, the Federation of Women lawyers (Fida) asked the national and county governments to find a lasting solution to the nurses' strike, even as clinical officers downed tools from Monday, demanding better pay.

ISSUE

Fida said the decision by the clinical officers was disheartening, coming amid the nurses' strike.

"Fida Kenya is disturbed by the inefficient approach with which the government has continued to address the problems in the health sector," Ms Josephine Mong'are, the chairperson, said.

Reported by Elizabeth Merab, Silas Apollo, Sammy Lutta, Barnabas Bii, Irene Mugo, Charles Wanyoro, Ndung'u Gachane, Winnie Atieno, Alex Njeru, Philip Bwayo, Mwangi Ndirangu and Silas Apollo

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