Kenya: Wajir Health Workers Stay Put As Strike Enters Week Two

An industrial strike by health workers in Wajir County has entered week two as the push for promotions, allowances and remittance of deductions gains momentum.

Nurses and clinical officers downed their tools on Tuesday last week, demanding the implementation of a return-to-work agreement reached between them and the county executive last December.

"We are on strike demanding that the county executive fulfils the agreement we signed. We want our members promoted and our allowances paid," said Mr Siyad Abdi Ali, the Wajir Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) county secretary.

The health workers are also demanding to have all deductions made from their salaries reflected in the respective receiving organisations.

Monthly deductions

"We want to know where all our monthly deductions made on our salaries go to because they are not reflecting at our union, sacco and medical cover," he said.

Mr Ali said it was surprising that even after the Wajir County Assembly approved a budget of Sh100 million for promotions of health workers, the executive has failed to implement them.

"Since January, the executive is yet to use the Sh100 million for promotion of health workers. We demand to be promoted because the budget has since been provided," he said.

Promotions

In March, health workers went on strike and, after six days, the executive got them back to work by promising to promote them by April.

The executive cited a technical hitch in failing to promote the health staff by March, according to the local nurses' union secretary.

"We shall only accept to go back to work after all our allowances have been paid and promotions effected by the executive," Mr Ali said.

The strike by the Wajir health workers has exposed residents seeking treatment at the county's health facilities to untold suffering.

Mr Hassan Salad said he has been at Wajir County Referral Hospital for the past three days seeking treatment for his child who is suffering from kala-azar.

"There are no nurses or anybody around. The wards are closed because patients have been moved to private facilities by their relatives," he said.

Talks to end strike

Speaking to the Nation, Wajir County Chief Officer for Public Health Adan Enow said they are in the process of ending the health workers' strike.

"We are having a meeting that shall see us reach an agreement and solve issues raised by health workers," he said.

He blamed bureaucracy in the county government for the delayed implementation of the agreement reached in December.

"This is a bulk promotion of staff and the county public service board had to take some time verifying every detail. We issued them with promotion letters and salary increment shall reflect from end of this month," he said.

And despite the chief officer announcing that the strike was over, the local KNUN office maintained that there were still issues to be clarified.

"We are still talking and once we conclude the meeting then we shall make a formal communication," the KNUN secretary said.

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