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Governors signal move to end nurses’ 3-month strike

Governors have summoned nurses’ union officials to a meeting Monday in the clearest indication that a solution towards ending the strike is in the offing.

Council of Governors Chairman Josphat Nanok said, in a letter dated August 25, that the meeting was to seek a solution to the nearly three-month strike that has crippled operations in public hospitals and put the lives of thousands of patients in danger.

Mr Nanok assured nurses that the council was steadfast in finding a lasting solution to the standoff. “Following a series of meetings at the Council of Governors offices, we are looking forward to finding a solution,” said Mr Nanok. He continued: “The purpose of this letter, therefore, is to invite the union to a consultative meeting on Monday at the Council of Governors offices.”

READ: Uhuru, governors urge nurses to end strike

OFFICIALS

The meeting comes even as the nurses union bickers over the legitimate officials.

A faction of the union officials last week accused the Council of Governors secretariat of being the stumbling block to the signing of a return-to-work agreement.

The faction accused CoG chief executive Jacqueline Mogeni of causing confusion and chaos in the union with a view to derailing negotiations on the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) by involving non-officials in the talks.

READ: Hospitals turn to private birth attendants as strike bites

According to Seth Panyako, the Secretary-General of the Kenya National Union of Nurses (Knun), Ms Mogeni on August 22 wrote a letter to the union calling for a meeting to discuss nurses’ job re-evaluation.

The same letter was sent to Mr John Bii, who is no longer an official of the union.

RIFTS

According to the union officials, Mr Bii was expelled from the union and is no longer an official.

The rifts within the union played out last Monday when both teams met at the Council of Governors offices to discuss job re-evaluation.

The meeting was called by Ms Mogeni but failed to take off because Mr Panyako’s team accused her of bringing in “strangers” (read Bii) to the talks.

The wrangles have been blamed for the pay dispute stalemate.

On August 22, the CoG wrote to the union asking them to call off the strike.

JOB EVALUATION

The CoG wanted a job re-evaluation done first after which their salary demands would be addressed.

At the same time, President Kenyatta urged the nurses to end the strike, saying the suffering masses had been caught up in a battle that is not theirs.

He was speaking at Kenyatta National Hospital.

More than 25,000 nurses have been on strike since June 5, demanding, among other things, higher salaries and allowances.

While there have been attempts to negotiate on the issue, the CoG now seems to have changed tack, and is instead pegging return to work as a condition for negotiations.

In the August 22 letter addressed to Mr Panyako, the CoG had stated that nurses should go back to work and allow a review of their jobs. 

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