Get back to work or be sacked, Busia health workers told

By: LINET WAFULA

Busia governor has ordered striking health workers to return to work by Monday or be sacked.

The medical staff have been on strike since Monday, a situation that has caused the death of three patients and paralysed health services in all county hospitals.

A spot check by Nation team revealed that Busia referral hospital has become a ghost institution.

Governor Sospeter Ojaamong’ on Saturday accused the workers of being insincere saying the county government had paid them all their dues and salaries

“You either resume duty on Monday or face the sack. You don’t have any reason to strike,” he said.

Speaking in Butula Sub County, the agitated governor said the strike had caused unnecessary suffering to patients across the county.

“The strike has completely paralysed services in all our hospitals and health centres. We don’t want to keep on losing people because of a strike that is not genuine,” he said.

Mr Ojaamong said the county had addressed some of the issues raised by the unions adding that if they don’t resume duty, they will be sacked and new people employed immediately.

The workers have kept off work for the sixth day paralysing operations in all major public hospitals and health centers in the border county.

The worst hit hospitals are Busia county referral hospital and Alupe which treats both national and foreign patients. Empty beds describe the sad state of affairs at the usually busy hospitals.

The strike started on Monday after talks between the county officials and health staff bore no fruits.

The strike has so far claimed three lives including a mother and a child who died at Busia County referral hospital after failing to get treatment.

Kenya National Union of Nurses (Knun) and Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Union had complained of delays in payment of salaries, lack of promotions as well as inadequate supply of drugs.

Acting Health minister Martin Kafwa said they agreed on the way forward on the 10 issues, except promotions and re-designation of staff which was postponed to next year.

“We have approved promotions of 88 health workers, whose names have been forwarded to the County Public Service board, he said.

But nurses’ union chairman Isaiah Omondi said they would not resume work until their demands are met including the promotion of 237 staff.

Mr Omondi said some staff had received warning letters from various organizations over non remittance of statutory deductions.

“It’s either someone is eating our money or they don’t know where to take the deductions,” he said.

County Director of Health Services said the statutory deductions were being remitted but remained on suspense account calling on health staff to resume duty as they sort out the mess.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION