The health sector in most counties has been marred by angry, striking staff handled by distanced governors.
Just withing the month of May, health workers from three different counties already threatened strikes. These come from Kirinyaga, Kisii, Taita Taveta and Laikipia Counties.
This is barely three months after the previously heated nurses strikes rocked 11 of the 47 counties.
According to the Kenya National Union of Nurses (Knun) secretary General Seth Panyako, the county governors were non-compliant.
There was no commitment from the governors of the 11 counties to striking a deal with the nurses to persuade them not to down their tools, Mr Panyako said, and the county bosses had failed to implement the return-to-work formula that saw the last strike suspended.
In Kirinyaga, Governor Anne Waiguru has been in squabbles with the health staff, especially from the Kerugoya County Referral Hospital.
Waiguru sacked all 346 casual health workers, spurring rage from the rest of the health staff who claimed they were contracting diseases due to lack of cleaners, among other casual workers at the facility.
On her part however, the governor dismissed the health workers’ strike threats as “political shenanigans”.
Kirinyagas wage bill is 46% of its revenue. That must change if we will see meaningful progress. We therefore refuse to be derailed by political shenanigans of those inciting staff to go on a go-slow citing removal of casual workers.#KirinyagaRising pic.twitter.com/k6sLv9sG3n
— Anne Waiguru (@AnneWaiguru) May 12, 2019
On the other hand, Laikipia medics cited the county government’s reluctance to implement their collective bargaining agreement (CBA), issuing a strike notice on May 24.
“During the meeting, the county government only gave us promises on the issues we raised and we have therefore decided to ask our doctors not to report to work on Monday until the demands are met,” said KMPDU South Rift Secretary-General Davji Atellah.
Similarly, Taita Taveta health workers went on strike as a series of talks with the county government on their demands proved unsuccessful.
The doctors issued a seven-day strike notice on May 8.
“The county government is not ready to give us a counter-offer that is practical and genuine,” a doctor claimed.
“Our salaries are always delayed. We demand that we get our pay on time,” he added.
The narrative was also the same in Kisii, where the striking nurses were issued with show cause letters, and threatened to get sacked.
A letter from the county secretary Patrick Lumumba to the chief officer health said a headcount will be done to establish which nurses have returned to work and those who have not.
While the battle keeps getting tough, the health workers seems to be relentless in demanding for their terms while county officials on the other hand also remain adamant in their county strategies. This in spite the fact that the health sector is one of the most fundamental. In the end mwananchi is the one caught up in the brawl.
‘farasi wawili wakipigana, nyasi huumia,’ says the Swahili adage.