Provision of healthcare services in 23 Kenyan counties was paralysed on Monday as nurses went on strike to protest delay in the implementation of an agreement to pay them higher salaries.
The nurses’ strike affected critical services in public hospitals where the bulk of Kenya’s low-income earners seek treatment.
Union officials said the strike would continue until a collective bargaining agreement negotiated with their employer in November 2017 is implemented in full.
Seth Panyako, Secretary-General of Kenya National Union of Nurses, said his members would not relent in their push for higher salaries and perks in line with an agreement signed with the employer.
“We are demanding full implementation of the collective bargaining agreement of 2017 before the strike by our members is called off. “The strike was our last option and hope the stalemate will be solved amicably,” said Panyako.
Earlier, Ukur Yatani, Cabinet Secretary for Labour and Social Protection, urged the nurses’ union to call off the strike and embrace dialogue to avoid hurting operations in public health facilities.
Yatani appointed a three-member team to resolve the stalemate between the nurses’ union and the council of governors before the strike kicked off countrywide.
The cabinet secretary demanded that the union representing more than 8000 nurses give an additional one month to facilitate implementation of the deal on salary increase.
Local media reported that the nurses’ strike was taking a toll on healthcare services across 23 counties, including the capital, Nairobi.
The paralysis was pronounced in Nairobi and other major towns like Mombasa and Kisumu where outpatient services in public hospitals were grounded due to absence of nurses.