Striking nurses, Governors maintain hardline stance

Written By: Margaret Kalekye/Purity Museo

Panyako and Opetu during the Monday presser (Photo/Purity Museo)

There is no end in sight for the ongoing nurse’s strike with both sides of the bargaining teams maintaining their hard stance.

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While the medics insist, they will not call off the 42-day long strike until their demands are fully met, the council of governors says they cannot and will not pay any cent to the striking healthcare workers.

The nurses’ union officials who are faulting the Governors for frustrating their efforts for dialogue now want president Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene and end the stalemate.

The Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) protested alleged intimidation and coercion to have nurses go back to work.

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The union secretary-general Seth Panyako said it was unfortunate that some county governments had resorted to uncivilized tactics including sackings to have the health workers call off the strike which they insist is legal.

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Panyako and his deputy Maurice Opetu while addressing journalists in Nairobi on Monday accused the Council of Governors (COG) of misleading the President and Kenyans at large on the health care crisis.

They, in particular, took on COG chair Wycliffe Oparanya for the manner in which he was handling the situation in the midst of the pandemic that has so far claimed 24 nurses. They challenged him to demonstrate goodwill by inviting the unions for talks instead of addressing the issue in funerals and political meetings.

Oparanya has said Counties will not honour the ‘unrealistic’ demands by the striking nurses.

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Panyako termed as false claims by Oparanya that the medics were earning more than engineers including receiving 16 different perks.

He warned Oparanya against sabotage maintaining that they will only offer services once their demands are met and a return to work formula is signed.

“We will not bow to any pressure nor intimidation. We will only call off the strike when our issues are addressed”

The union leaders said they are open for negotiations but their efforts to reach out COG and Labour ministry were futile as they had refused to respond to their letters.

“We are ready to relent on some of our demands but with a commitment. Governors should swallow their pride and come back to the negotiation table. COG must take responsibility and be responsible for the lives lost in the country. They cheated Kenyans that they were ready prepared to handle the pandemic. The truth is counties lack basic protective gears for the health care workers” Panyako said.

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He vowed to push for a medical cover for nurses who contract Covid and compensation for families of those who succumbed to the virus while in the line of duty.

Panyako said it was illogical for governors whom he blamed for the crisis to sack nurses who have refused to heed to calls to go back to work.












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