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County advertises vacancies to replace 300 nurses on strike

Taita Taveta County government has announced job vacancies to fill positions of over 300 striking nurses.

According to the advert being circulated on social media by county officials, the County Public Service Board resolved to employ nurses to end suffering of patients who have been forced to seek treatment in private hospitals.

“The County Public Service Board announces recruitment of nurses on December 20, 2016 as from 8am in Mwatate, Voi, Taveta and Wundanyi sub counties,” reads the advert.

Speaking in Voi, County Health Services executive, Gifton Mkaya warned the striking nurses that they will face disciplinary action for engaging in an illegal strike.

Mr Mkaya said the department will not recognise officials of the county’s Kenya National Union of Nurses until the national body writes to identify them.

“Last week we entered into agreement with the national union that they will formally write to us and give us the names of their branch officials. Up to now they have not sent the names and it means this strike is illegal,” he said.

The nurses are protesting over delayed promotions, overtime, transfer and escort allowances.

They nurses had given the county government notice to continue with the strike after the nationwide strike that ended on Wednesday last week.

Mr Mkaya said the purported union officials had failed to show up for a consultative meeting with county officials on Friday claiming the meeting was on short notice.

“We had planned to tell them that the strike is illegal and we will take action against them,” Mr Mkaya added.

A spot check by the Nation in some of the private hospitals in Voi town revealed that the facilities were overwhelmed by the high number of patients seeking services there as major public hospitals remained deserted with no patients and staff.

As the strike entered its fourth day on Sunday, wards in private hospitals like St Joseph Shelter of Hope and River Jordan hospitals in Voi were congested because of the overwhelming patient numbers.

At St Joseph Shelter of Hope, the management was forced to put beds in the corridors to manage the increasing number of patients.

The maternity wing also experienced a high increase of women seeking services forcing the private wing of the hospital to be turned into a public ward.

Governor John Mruttu who toured the hospital said the county government will send more beds to the hospital to increase the bed capacity.

“The county government will also cater for maternal and accident cases for patients who have been brought here,” he said.

KNUN county branch chairperson, Ms Halima Hassan, said the nurses were also protesting poor working conditions in county health facilities.

She said the county government had entered into an agreement with the nurses in September, this year to implement their grievances by December failure, they would down tools.

“We have been frustrated with poor pay and unfavourable working conditions yet the county government does not care about us. We will not report to work until our grievances are met,” she said.

The branch’s secretary general, Boniface Mrashui, said the union had requested to meet the county officials over the weekend but they instead said they were off duty.

“Now between us and them, who is delaying talks? Whenever we are available they give us excuses,” said Mr Mrashui.

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