18 hours ultimatum for striking nurses to resume work
Striking nurses in West Pokot county have been given 18 hours to resume work or be axed, by Governor Prof. John Lonyangapuo .
Giving the ultimatum after touring Kapenguria county hospital early Tuesday, Lonyangapuo asked the nurses to resume work by Wednesday at 7.00am, adding that those who fail to report will be automatically sacked.
“Tomorrow, exactly at 7.00 am, I will be here at the hospital to take roll call of all workers. Those who will fail to report will be replaced immediately by the county public service board,” he said.
Nurses downed their tools over 90 days ago, with demands for the implementation of a collective bargaining agreement by the council of governors.
He said the health sector was devolved and that the nurses had no reason to strike over a collective bargain agreement that is supposed to be implemented by the national government.
“Nurses have been on strike for over three months now, we have had several negotiations with nurses union and we reached an agreement, but they have refused to resume work,” he said.
He added that those who will honour to resume work will not be victimized for taking part in the illegal strike.
He further blamed some county officials for inciting some nurses who were willing to resume, saying they are trying to frustrate his effort in restoring sanity in the health sector.
“Recently, some of the nurses had accepted to return to work, but some officials are threatening them. Those inciters will not be spared by my government. You must accept that I am the governor for the next five years, and be ready to work with my government,” he said.
The governor said all governors met last week and agreed that the nurses should resume work this week.
“We have been too lenient to them, but they don’t want to listen to us. It is a devolved function and must agree to work closely with the governors and it has reached a stage where we shall not continue persuading them to resume work at the expense of innocent Kenyans,” said the governor.
Lonyangapuo said the county public service board will place an advert in local dailies before Friday to replace those who will not have reported to their respective places of work stations.
“Many of our people have lost their lives due to the strike. By Friday the county government will have deployed new nurses to take over from those on strike. This is not a joke,” Lonyangapuo warned.
He said he will recruit the nurses from all over the country and asked those who qualify to apply.
The governor regretted that many patients from the county had been forced to seek health services from private hospitals outside the county.
“Most of the patients from this county have been detained in private hospitals in Eldoret town since they are unable to pay the bills. I know of a patient who is being detained in one of the private hospital for not being able to raise Sh 2 million medical bills,” he said.
The governor said that the nurses have been receiving their salaries despite them being on strike, pointing out that his government will from now pay for work done.
“I have authorized banks to pay their salaries, but am going to stop since we cannot pay people who are not working,” he said.
He said the nurses should accept what counties are offering them, since most of the civil servants in the country had their salaries slashed by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission.
By John Saina