STATUS UPDATE ON THE HEALTH CARE WORKERS STRIKE
Reference is made to the ongoing industrial unrest of the health care workers.
The County Government of Taita Taveta would like to update as follows:
1. The County Government of Taita Taveta has held numerous meetings with all the Union officials representing the health care workers in a bid to address issues of concern.
2. The Union Officials unanimously expressed satisfaction on the steps taken by the County Government of Taita Taveta in addressing their grievances.
3. Some of the issues of concern handled by the County Government include;
a) Re-designation of 34 health care workers.
b) Effected 80 first promotions
c) Re-grading of 45 health care workers
d) Initiated the process of effecting 144 second promotions including placing an internal advertisement for the subsequent promotions
e) Ensuring there is adequate supply of quality PPEs
f) Scaling up efforts of completing the construction of the 160 bed county isolation ward; including setting aside a facility to handle health care workers and county staff infected with Covid-19.
g) Renewal of county employees’ comprehensive insurance cover
h) Ensured timely payment of staff salaries compared to other places where delays have been experienced for months
i) Continuous improvement of staff welfare and working environment-procurement of working tools and equipment, infrastructural improvement
j) Always provided accommodation for health care workers taking care of Covid patients on a rotational basis; hence protecting their families from chances of exposure.
k) Additional recruitment of 284 health care workers across all cadres in the last one year
4. Due to the above listed efforts made, including the political goodwill demonstrated by the County Leadership in handling the concerns raised, in a meeting held on 11th December 2020, the County Union Officials agreed to suspend the county strike notice earlier on made. However, in an act of insincerity they chose to listen to the call by National Unions of staying out of their workstations as opposed to getting to work as most of their issues had been addressed by the County Government of Taita Taveta. Pleas by the County Leadership of having the union officials borrow a leaf from some few select Counties where the unions had agreed to settle issues at the county level bore no fruits.
5. On the 16th December 2020, the Employment and Labour Relations Court in Nairobi in Cause No. E6494 of 2020, Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Health Vs. Kenya National Union of Clinical Officers (KUCO), Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) and four others, the Court suspended the National Strike. The effect of that is that all health care workers as at 16th December were required to resume duty and allow conciliation.
6. The Council of Governors, through its resolutions communicated on 21st December 2020, Ref: COG/6/40 Vol.60(89), unanimously agreed to follow the direction given by the Court, and that any health care worker who failed to resume duty was to have appropriate disciplinary action taken against him/her.
7. A circular was subsequently issued from the office of the county secretary, who is also the Head of County Public Service on 23rd December 2020, GOV/TT/ST.8/NR/VOL.I/95 directing all the health care workers on strike to resume duty, while clearly stipulating that disciplinary actions were going to be taken against those who failed to do so.
8. While appreciating a section of the health care workers, including some of the unions, who took heed of this advisory, a big section of nurses and clinical officers disregarded this communication. Consequently, salaries were stopped immediately to those who decided to abscond from duty.
9. As guided by the Human Resource Policies and Procedures Manual for the Public Service as well as the Discipline Manual for the Public Service and other related legislations, the relevant disciplinary processes had to be initiated against those who absented themselves from duty without any valid reason.
10. Show-cause letters were issued; those who failed to give a valid response were subsequently issued with dismissal letters.
11. Those who were aggrieved by the decision made were advised to appeal to the County Public Service Board for consideration.
12. The County Government has since written to the Ministry of Health on the Contractual UHC nurses and clinical officers who have equally kept off work for further disciplinary action over and above effecting stoppage of their salaries which has since been done.
13. The County residents have been under a lot of tough socio-economic times due to the Covid pandemic.
14. Cognizant of Article 43 of the Constitution on Economic and Social Rights, in the spirit of safeguarding the interest of its people, while implementing the delegated sovereign power of the people in accordance to the constitution and all the related acts, the County Government of Taita Taveta who is the employer to the health care workers was left with no option but to show them the door and pave way to other deserving Kenyans who are willing to offer their services to the County Residents.
15. On 21st January, 2021 the Mombasa Employment and Labour Relations Court, in a case filed by the Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (Taita Taveta Branch) against the County Government of Taita Taveta and the County Public Service Board, issued an order directing the clinical officers to attempt to exhaust internal dispute resolution mechanism available including filling of APPEALS to the County Public Service Board. A few officers who made their appeals, presented themselves to the board for consideration.
16. Despite all the efforts made by the County Government of Taita Taveta towards having good working environment of their employees, a section of the medics have decided to frustrate the citizens who deserve quality, accessible and affordable health care services.
17. It must be underscored that the Constitution of Kenya seeks to protect rights of every citizen; the government will not stand and watch as a section of people infringe on other resident’s rights.
18. The County Government will not and shall not allow its citizens to suffer from actions of a section of people only concerned with their selfish interests while failing to appreciate the sacrifices done by both the National and County Governments amid the tough economic times.
19. In conclusion, the Health Workers who would like to be reinstated have been given an opportunity to submit their appeals immediately to the County Public Service Board for consideration. Otherwise the dismissed workers are expected to do clearance with the employer; those residing in the facilities’ staff houses are supposed to vacate the premises by close of business 5th February 2021.
The county residents are advised to remain calm as the County Government works around the clock to bring normalcy in the health sector.
County Secretary & Head of County Public Services
Chairman, County Public Service Board
County Executive Committee Member,
Date: 3rd February, 2021