COTU Officials Point Finger at Governors Over Misappropriation of Funds

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Vocal COTU members have come to the presidents’ rescue. Their statement comes barely a day after Uhuru dismissed the nurses’ demands, saying there is no money. Uhuru on Wednesday appeared to have closed all avenues for dialogue with the striking nurses after he ruled out raising “the bloated and unsustainable” public wage bill further. The nurses in several counties went on strike on February 4, to push for an Sh3,000 increase in nursing allowance in the first year and Sh3,500 in the two subsequent years as per the CBA.

The nurse are demanding an annual increase of Sh5,000 in uniform allowance effective July 2018. The issue of nurses’ strike should not be politicised, the Central Organisation of Trade Unions has said. Addressing the media on Thursday, the union called on governors to stop dragging President Uhuru Kenyatta’s name into the matter.

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Cotu board member Wafula Wamusamia said governors have no choice but to pay the nurses as it was an agreement they signed in 2017. He defended the move by Kenya National Union of Nurses Secretary General Seth Panyako urging nurses not to go back to work until their issues are solved.

“Don’t shift the blame on Panyako. Lets address the issue at hand. If they agreed to pay why change now? We don’t want politics in it. let it remain an issue between workers and employers,” Wamusamia said. The Cotu official accused governors of misappropriating the money meant to pay nurses.

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“They have misused the money and are now seeking refuge from the President. Governors including Mike Sonko have said they have money to pay their nurses. Where are those who have been paid gotten the money? Are we in different countries? Why can’t the rest of the governors do the same?” he asked.

AU special envoy Raila Odinga at the same function called for dialogue to end the nurses strike. Cotu officials have however hit out at their employer, saying their work is to advise and not to interfere in the matter. Nairobi, Mombasa, Vihiga, Migori, Machakos, and Kwale counties have agreed to pay the nurses’ allowances.

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The Council of Governors and the Ministry of Health have said those who lose their jobs for participating in the strike will not be hired in any public health facility. The strike is still active in 15 counties with more than 5,000 nurses yet to go back to work as directed by the court on February 5. The KNUN officials are expected to appear in court next Tuesday for contempt. 

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