Clinical officers have given county governments a 10-day ultimatum to pay their outstanding salaries or face a strike.
The Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (Kuco) issued the strike notice to the county governments over failure to pay their salaries since July to date.
Among a host of other grievances, the clinical officers accused the devolved units of failing to pay their salaries without any explanation or apology, terming the move illogical and insensitive.
“We have given the devolved units the ultimatum which expires on September 15 before we go on strike for their failure to pay our salaries since June without an explanation or apology. Their actions and attitude on the matter are clearly illogical and insensitive to our plight,” said KUCO Secretary-General George Gibore.
“We had suspended our strike after presenting our petition to the SRC and Council of Governors which promised to look into our grievances and give us a way forward but the period set out for our discussions has now elapsed,” he said.
Mr Gibore took issue with the Salaries and Remuneration Commission for omitting the recommended allowances in its review of the clinical officers’ salaries, terming the move foolhardy and calculated to cause discontent in the sector.
“The SRC decided to label our services as low-skilled, which is an insult to our training and intelligence, and subsequently downgraded our salaries and allowances.
“We will not accept that kind of injustice as medical professionals since the SRC was out to cause discontent in the sector,” said the Kuco official.
The medics alleged that their employers had reneged on an agreement to evaluate their salaries, terms and conditions of work, saying the date they had agreed with their employers had elapsed, leaving them with no alternative but to issue a strike ultimatum.
“We wish to remind the Salaries and Remuneration Commission, Ministry of Health and Council of Governors that the agreed upon timeline for rolling out our evaluation results after our appeal for clinical officers has elapsed and our suspended strike comes into effect on September 15, 2017 if this matter is not settled as we had agreed,” said Mr Gibore.
He also raised concern over what he termed as “a worrying precedence of neglect and indifference to workers’ grievances on the government’s part in relation to strikes in the health sector”.
The union official alleged that the government was not keen on resolving the doctors and nurses’ strikes, adding that it does not care about the plight of its workers or patients who are expecting to receive services in State-run health facilities.
“We are also concerned with a very worrying and dangerous precedence being set by the national and devolved governments whereby they have decided to deliberately ignore the plight of striking workers despite the suffering of the common mwananchi who depends on public healthcare,” he said.
Mr Gibore likened the nurses’ strike, which has entered its 93rd day, to the doctors’ strike which was resolved after 100 days of industrial action.
“It seems the 100 day doctors’ strike period has set a precedence with the nurses’ strike just seven days shy of the 100 day doctors’ strike. This is unacceptable and a clear display of hypocrisy by the very people who are supposed to protect the interests of the common mwananchi,” said Mr Gibore.
He said the strike has increased the pressure and workload on clinical officers, who have been forced to take up extra duties normally performed by nurses in health facilities.
Kuco Chairman Peterson Wachira blamed the industrial unrest gripping the health sector on pay discrepancies and inequalities, saying strikes will never come to an end as long as the situation persists.
“It should be noted that the perennial human resource unrest is due to the unjustifiable discrepancies in remuneration among different cadres in the sector, where a degree holder who is an intern in one cadre earns 130 percent over and above a qualified degree holder in another cadre. SRC is clueless on what to do and any further attempt to downgrade us will not be tolerated,” said Mr Wachira.