May 28, 2022

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

Medics see nothing to smile about on Labour Day

President Kenyatta yesterday honored his final Labor Day celebrations as head of state at the Nyayo National Stadium, but union leaders for healthcare workers say further considerations for their well-being need to be addressed.

During In his speech Dominated by Covid-19 and the impact it has had on Kenyan workers, the President said the impact was “not too negative”. However, the medics who helped slow the pandemic believe his tenure, particularly his second term, saw the highest number of industrial disputes and not even the pandemic helped ease their plight.

At the height of the pandemic, healthcare workers went on strike in December 2020, prompting Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe to reprimand them for insensitivity and urge them to resume their duties or risk losing their jobs . In 2017, when health workers had a 150-day strike that shut down the health sector, the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) was a major bone of contention.

CBA signed

Two studies; one from the Kemri Wellcome Trust and another from the International Journal for Equity in Health (IJEH) say that a cordial relationship between the national government, county government and health workers’ unions would put an end to the incessant industrial action.

“Frustration at the failure to sign and implement the CBA was reportedly compounded by the fact that the Salaries and Compensation Commission [which advises the government on public servants’ pay and benefits] classified nurses as semi-skilled and thus only defined people who were eligible for relatively low salary brackets. and doctors were implementing their collective agreement when they went on strike,” the IJEH study said.

Trade union leaders who spoke to the nation yesterday said the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) and the districts pose an obstacle to a conducive working environment.

Alfred Obengo, President of the Federation of Health Professionals Association of Kenya, told the nation yesterday that strikes are common among healthcare workers who have an unhealthy relationship between created for them and the government.

Insensitive statements

“President Uhuru Kenyatta is not solely to blame, but the county governments and the SRC. There are times when the government might meet our needs, but the SRC might come out with provocative and insensitive statements that make healthcare workers feel less than citizens, even though we produce human capital,” said Mr. Obengo.

Echoing Mr. Obengo’s opinion on the SRC, Mr. Peterson Wachira, Chairman of the Clinical Associations of Kenya, and Dr. Davji Atellah, Chair of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union, said the SRC is the biggest obstacle to dialogue in the healthcare sector. p>

“While the Constitution directs it to provide opinions on civil servants’ salaries and set the salaries of state officials, it has given itself the power to set salaries for everyone, including civil servants,” said Mr. Wachira.

“We are pleased that the CBA was signed, but the SRC has ensured that the negotiations do not take place. A lot of strikes are happening because the SRC is going beyond its mandate,” said Dr. Atellah.