By MUTUA NDONGA
For 12 days now services in most public hospitals have been crippled following the nurses’ strike. The bone of contention is failure by the the two levels of government to register a collective bargaining agreement.
The 2010 Constitution places health matters, including the welfare of health workers, in the hands of the county governments. However, a false impression has been created that President Uhuru Kenyatta is to blame for the mess in the sector.
Uhuru has not sat back and watched poor Kenyans, who cannot afford private hospital fees, suffer and lose their lives.
He has urged the Council of Governors to speedily resolve the crisis. To the medical personnel, he has reminded them of their oath, which is to save people’s lives first.
This is not the first time that health workers have gone on strike. The Moi and Kibaki regimes faced similar challenges.
For Uhuru, the Salaries and Remuneration Commission must be involved on matters salary and allowance increase. The role of the SRC, which is created by the Constitution, is to guide and advise on remunerations for all categories of state and public workers.
Kenya is a developing economy. Our medical personnel cannot earn hefty perks such as those of their counterparts in developed countries.
Before the current strike began, the National Treasury had released Sh3.2 billion to the county governments to pay the nurses for the days they did not work during the December strike. This was part of a return-to-work formula agreed upon.
A few weeks later, some union officials would make more demands, complicating the CBA talks, which had reached an advanced stage. They demanded increases totalling Sh40 billion. The economy cannot sustain this pay hike. The SGR has urged the nurses to be considerate.
As negotiations continued, Kenya National Union of Nurses secretary general Seth Panyako asked the members to down their tools. He was immediately faulted because he did not comply with the union’s rules and regulations.
First, the secretary general can only ask members to go on strike after receiving the go-ahead by the union’s top organs—National Governing Council and National Executive Committee. Reports indicate Panyako did not seek this approval.
Secondly, no strike is allowed when negotiations are ongoing.
I have strong reason to believe NASA has a hand in the strike.
Media reports indicate Panyako is a member of ODM. The party has cleared him to run for Kakamega senator.
When he lost the 2013 election, Raila and his brigade refused to recognise Uhuru’s victory and still refuse to acknowledge his administration’s successes. Instead, they have resorted to all manner of political games to ensure he is not reelected.
Raila, when endorsed to fly the NASA flag, likened himself to the biblical Joshua, and pledged to take Kenyans to the Promised Land.
How come he did not play this role when he served as Prime Minister? Does he expect Kenyans to trust him now?
Panyako, whom many believe is helping Raila, is in for a rude shock. Going by the numbers, Raila does not stand a chance of winning.
Mutua Ndonga is a political analyst and blogger