Kenya: Taita Taveta Threatens to Fire Striking Health Workers

13 November 2019

Taita Taveta County has threatened to sack all health workers who are on strike.

Speaking in Voi on Wednesday, acting Health Executive Daniel Makoko said they will take disciplinary measures against all workers who did not report to work on Wednesday.

He noted that the health being a crucial department, locals had a constitutional right to access affordable and quality healthcare.

PATIENTS DISCHARGED

"We will not continue to make the residents suffer. We will not compromise our duty to deliver better health services to our people," Mr Makoko said.

"Some of the patients were discharged prematurely, while others were taken to private facilities. This was uncalled for," he said.

A meeting convened on Tuesday by County Labour Officer Stephen Gona to resolve the dispute between the county government and the health workers did not bear fruits after the two parties failed to agree on payment of Sh60 million arrears owed to workers.

The county government had offered to pay the medics Sh30 million in the first phase but the health workers' union rejected the offer.

The unions are demanding full payment of their arrears failure to which the strike will continue.

SALARY ARREARS

Mr Makoko, however, said the health workers received their last month's salaries on time.

He said that the medics will soon benefit from a comprehensive medical insurance plan.

"We can resolve this issue as they continue with their duties. We have shown goodwill by tackling some of the issues they had raised," he said.

The other 1,200 medics, who have downed their tools for three days, are pushing for the implementation of their return to work formula which was signed last month by their unions and county officials.

The strike has paralysed operations in all county hospitals and dispensaries in the county.

The workers accused the county government of failing to pay their promotion arrears which had accumulated since 2014.

THREATS

The health workers, who said they will not to be intimidated, vowed not to return to work until their demands are met.

County inter-union secretary, Reuben Matolo said their members are tired of empty promises by their employer.

Mr Matolo said they were working under unfavourable environment.

He cited shortage of drugs and other medical supplies in health facilities as some of the challenges they were facing.

A section of leaders has accused medics of stealing the drugs and selling them to unsuspecting patients.

"They have accused us of stealing drugs. There are no drugs to steal," he said.

The Kenya National Union of Nurses branch chairperson Halima Hassan asked residents to join them in the fight for a better healthcare system in the county. Ms Hassan said residents too were affected by the ailing sector.

"This fight will benefit everyone, I urge residents to be patient as we try to resolve these issues," she said.

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