13 September 2017

Kenya: We're Ready for Talks, Nurses' Association Tells Governors

Photo: Diana Ngila/Daily Nation
Striking nurses protest outside Afya House in Nairobi.

The National Nurses Association of Kenya (NNAK) has asked the Council of Governors to consider dialogue with striking nurses before resorting to other disciplinary measures.

The association spoke as Council of Governors chairman Josphat Nanok ruled out any further negotiations and directed governors to take action against nurses who have not heeded the call to return to work.

Mr Nanok said that all nurses who are still on strike should be sacked by their respective county governments as the strike had been declared illegal by the courts.


"The counties are free to advertise for new applicants to replace those who had not reported back to work after September 8. We have given the governors the go ahead and advertise for the jobs," Mr Nanok said in Shamanei village in Laikipia County where he had gone to condole with his Laikipia counterpart Ndiritu Muriithi who lost his mother on Friday.

The Turkana Governor ruled out dialogue, saying there was no further room for negotiations with the nurses who have been on strike since June.

But the nurses association chairman Alfred Obengo in an interview with Nation said they are ready for talks that will lead to a lasting solution.

"The CoG is the employer and is therefore at liberty to take any step including legal action they feel is good for them but before then, there is need to hear out both sides on the matter," Mr Obengo said.

He said nurses are ready to initiate the negotiations, saying the threats issued by the CoG were meant to intimidate them.

"We remain in solidarity with the nurses in their struggle as we continue to appeal for constructive dialogue to end the suffering of innocent Kenyans," he said.


Governor Nanok said some governors are new and need time to reorganise their governments.

"The court has already ruled on the matter so it is either they report back to work or be sacked," he said about the striking nurses.

"We are all aware that we are having new governors in office while others were re-elected. The nurses should first report back to work as we find a solution to their grievances," said the CoG chairman.

While sympathising with suffering patients, Mr Nanok said that the governors' council had done everything possible to end the strike but nurses were adamant on resolving the matter.

"As council we have tried our best by doing everything possible but they have been maintaining their hard stance whereas Kenyans are suffering," he added.


At the same time, Governor Muriithi pleaded with nurses to report back to work and give the new county administrations time to look into their grievances.

"They should return back to work as they give the new county administrations time to resolve the whole issue," he said.

Meanwhile, the nurses' association says it will move to court to petition against the Health Act 2017 signed into law by President Uhuru Kenyatta in June.

"The president assented to the Bill and it has since been published in the Kenya Gazette but we feel it is not all-inclusive and it is only in favour of doctors, leaving out the rest of the medical practitioners," Mr Obengo said.


He claimed there was no stakeholder participation in the formulation of the law, adding that doctors had hijacked the process.

"We feel it's a doctor's Bill and not a Health Bill as portrayed," he said.

Among others, nurses claim the Act locks them out of the powerful position of director general at Afya House, which is equivalent to the position of director of medical services.

Nurses across the country have been on strike since June demanding the implementation of a contentious collective bargaining agreement.

Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui has since formed a taskforce to address matters affecting the health sector in the county, including the nurses' strike.

The team is expected to table its report by the end of September.

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