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Nyamira health workers threaten to down their tools

By Elizabeth Ngigi September 15th, 2023 2 min read

Doctors in Nyamira County are on the brink of a strike set for Monday, September 25, demanding action from the county government on issues concerning promotions and severe understaffing that have persisted for years.

The looming strike action was announced through a communique issued by the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Union (KMPDU) secretary-general, Davji Atella.

According to the doctors, they will withdraw their services if the county government fails to address their grievances.

The primary concerns the medical practitioners raise include prolonged delays in promotions and a severe shortage of medical staff.

The doctors contend that despite the pressing need for additional healthcare professionals, the county government has only employed 30 doctors to serve over 650,000 residents.

Furthermore, the KMPDU accuses the Nyamira County Government of reneging on previous agreements, explicitly citing the failure to honour the Return to Work Formula (RTWF) and a court order dating back to 2021.

“The Nyamira County Government has failed to honour the RTWF and a court order dating back to 2021. This has left our dedicated doctors in limbo, with prolonged probation periods, no promotions for consultants and doctors for over eight years, and even demotions. The situation is dire, and it’s time for action,” stated Atella.

The shortage of medical personnel has not only demoralized the healthcare workforce but also compromised the quality of healthcare services provided to the people of Nyamira, according to the doctors.

Also read: KMPDU outlines health workers salary demands

To provide the county government with an opportunity to address their concerns, the KMPDU-Nyanza branch has issued a 21-day strike notice, which is set to expire on September 25.

On September 4, 2023, KMPDU-Nyanza branch secretary Dr Aggrey Orwenyo wrote a letter to the county government outlining the doctors’ demands.

These demands include a formal commitment by the county government to promote doctors, confirm doctors on probation, and issue a directive for KMPDU members to access bank loan services.

Dr Orwenyo also highlighted the county government’s repeated failure to adhere to a promotion directive by the Employment and Labour Relations Court (ELRC).

The doctors assert that the county’s actions clearly violate the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), the RTWF, and the Revised Schemes of Service for Doctors.

They contend that the lack of implementation of these agreements within the prescribed period constitutes unfair labour practices.

Despite their efforts, KMPDU-Nyanza Branch doctors have reported that the Nyamira County Government has yet to respond to their letter or engage in discussions to address the issues raised.

This impending strike in Nyamira County follows a recent protest by doctors in Nairobi on September 12, 2023, where they expressed dissatisfaction with the deteriorating state of healthcare in public hospitals.

Also read: Health CS Susan Nakhumicha pleads with health workers amid threat of strike