Seventeen cadres of health professionals demanding better workplace protections in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak in the country have issued a 14-day strike notice to the government.
Nurses, clinical officers, medical lab technicians, pharmacy technicians, nutritionist and other cadres of health professionals have said they will commence their strike on May 18 if their demands are not met.
Leaders of Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN), Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (KUCO), Kenya National Union of Medical Laboratory Officers, Kenya National Union of Pharmaceutical Technologists and other cadres of healthcare workers have announced their intention to down their tools should their grievances fall on deaf ears.
Under the umbrella body of Kenya Health Professionals Society (KHPS) that is chaired by Mohammed Duba, the healthcare professionals have said the government has sidelined them at a time when they are taking all risks to fight the virus.
“We reiterate our goodwill to support the government during this period…and once more appeal to the government to address the issues within 14 days from today failure to which the unions will commence a nationwide strike,” he said.
The medics are demanding harmonisation of risk allowances to Sh30,000 across all cadres. They say currently some workers get Sh20,000 and others Sh3,000.
Clinical officers’ union secretary-general George Gibore said some health workers have stagnated in one job group for over 10 years despite continuous signed agreements between employers and unions that are never implemented.
“The ministry has promoted doctors leaving out the other cadres which is affecting the morale of other healthcare workers,” he said.
The issue of protective gear has been particularly fraught among healthcare workers with Mr Gibore stating that there have been several occasions were a suspected coronavirus patient is handled by health workers who only have face masks.
Representatives of the workers accused the government of taking their safety for granted.
Some 12 health workers have contracted the virus, with four still fighting for their lives.
Mr Gibore said that most health workers were having challenges with transport, with reported cases of police harassment and arrest on their way home from duty.
The unions said their leaders were left out of planning for Covid-19 mitigation, making them unaware of any plans by the government to protect and motivate their members.