Striking healthcare workers defiant amid sack threats

Written By: Eric Biegon, Purity Museo

KMPDU Sec. Gen. Dr. Mwachonda Chibanzi addressing the press on the ongoing healthcare workers strike. PICTURE / PURITY MUSEO

The health workers unions have scoffed at Council of Governors’ threats to sack medical practitioners currently participating in the strike that has paralyzed activities in hospitals across the country.

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Officials drawn from the Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union, KMPDU, and the Kenya National Union of Nurses, KNUN, are adamant that they will not be intimidated into calling off the industrial action.

“We offered 35 days’ notice to the government to hear us but they ignored. We will not be intimidated.” KMPDU Secretary General Dr Mwachonda Chibanzi said

Addressing the media, a day after COG Chair Wycliffe Oparanya asked governors to dispatch disciplinary letters to the affected medical personnel, Dr. Mwachonda accused the two levels of governments of being dishonest to Kenyans by insisting that their demands are unattainable.

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“Doctors are dying and we have no cover. We are also Kenyans and we will not put our lives at risk. Firing us will not solve the problems in the health care sector but you can go ahead and fire all of us. We will not go to work unpaid.” Mwachonda charged

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KNUN Sec. Gen. Seth Panyako addressing the press at Union offices in Nairobi on 23/12/2020. PICTURE / PURITY MUSEO

His sentiments resonated well with those of his counterparts at KNUN who insist that the only way back to their duty stations is if their welfare will be given priority.

“Let the government sack us. We will be out until our demands are met.”  KNUN Nairobi Chair Boaz Onchari Said at a separate press conference

“Kagwe is misleading Kenyans. We urge our members to ignore threats from the Council of Governors and the Ministry of Health.” KNUN Sec Gen Seth Panyako added

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According to the unions, the ministry alongside counties are not doing enough to alleviate the suffering of frontline health workers in the ongoing battle against the COVID-19 disease.

“None of the government officials has attended burial of any of our colleagues who have died from COVID-19. We do not have PPEs that’s the fact” Claimed Dr. Mwachonda

What’s more, the medics claim that government representatives have been non-committal in the talks aimed at ending the stalemate and instead resorted to threats and intimidations.

“The Ministry and COG boycotted a meeting yesterday only to address us in a press conference. We are ready to sit down and talk but will never be intimidated.” Mwachonda charged

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KNUN insists that the state must provide leadership on the matter, disclosing that the union, just like their colleagues in other associations, is ready to ask its members to resume duty if the demands are met.

“For the last 2 weeks that we have been on strike we have not lost any health worker from covid-19. It is evident that health workers are contracting and dying from Covid in line of duty.”  Panyako said

Kenya Union of Clinical Officers convened a press conference of its own in Nairobi on 23/12/2020. PICTURE / PURITY MUSEO

Later in the afternoon, the Kenya Union of Clinical Officers also convened a press conference to respond to the letter by Oparanya.

“Unfortunately COG and MoH are politicizing health matters. This time round we are not demanding for salary increment but conducive working environment. The strike will continue until our issues are addressed. KUCO chair Peterson Wachira said

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