Kenya: Bungoma Nurses Suspend Strike Paving Way for Dialogue With County Government

21 January 2021

Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) Bungoma Branch on Wednesday agreed to suspend the nurses' strike to give room for further negotiations with the county government.

Addressing the media at the county headquarters after hours of closed-door discussions, the nurses who have been on strike since December 7, 2020, agreed to recall all nurses to their stations in the next 48 hours.

Bungoma governor Wycliffe Wangamati thanked the leadership of KNUN for their bold move that informed their decision to resume duty.

He attributed this breakthrough to the good working relationship that his administration has with the medical workers, noting the fact that salaries were paid even in the months that they were not at work.

"As you all know our neighboring counties of Busia, Vihiga, Kakamega and a number of counties stopped the salaries of health workers and even went ahead to advertise for their positions but we are grateful that we have been able to pay our health workers and have now engaged in a dialogue that has brought a break through," Wangamati said.

The governor said that the nurses will be on duty within the next 48 hours, adding that his administration is committed in ensuring that the county's health sector that was in pathetic state is revamped.

"When I took office in August 2017 we had myriads of challenges in our health facilities that made patients loose lives and others go to Eldoret to seek treatment we have managed to address them and we are doing more," he said.

He said that as a county they have managed to renovate all the health centres and dispensaries across the county and equipped them fully with drugs.

"We are constructing a 350-bed capacity hospital here in Bungoma town and we are also putting up another big hospital in Sirisia that will ease our people to get medication," he said.

Health workers salaries

Wangamati noted that with the Sh213 million Covid-19 funds the county received from the national government they managed to set up Covid-19 centres across the county's nine constituencies dispensaries.

The KNUN officials led by their secretary general Noel Khaemba thanked the county government for agreeing to negotiations to settle the plight of wananachi who have been on their own for the past 44 days.

Khaemba said that as a team they have agreed, as part of the return to work pact with the county government to ensure that the health workers salaries to continue being paid on time.

"We have also agreed that our promotions and re-designations to be completed in the next 3 months," he said.

Khaemba added that they have also agreed with the county that a risk allowance of Sh5,000 to be provided according to the 2017 pact.

"We have also agreed that employment of staff on contract effective July 1, 2021 to get all their allowances and full salaries," he said.

Khaemba commended the county for seeing to it that there was enough stock of PPEs and drugs in all the facilities.

Governor Wangamati assured the public of his commitment to a complete overhaul of the health sector which was on its death bed when he took office through his focus on Infrastructure, human resource and drug availability.

Representing the union were Haggis Anyangu (chairman), Noel Khaemba (secretary general), Joel Oywaya, Susan Shikuku, Bramwel Musambati (chief nurse), and organising secretary Wilfred Osundwa.

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