Nurses in Tharaka-Nithi County go on strike demanding delayed December salaries

Nurses in Tharaka-Nithi County have downed their tools demanding the payment of December salaries, which they say have been delayed, and remittance of statutory deductions.

This is the 17th time the health workers in the county have gone on strike since devolution started.

In a press release, Kenya National Union of Nurses (Knun) branch secretary Kenneth Micheni said the strike is the only language the county government understands.

“We have withdrawn our services until our needs are addressed satisfactorily,” said Mr Micheni.

Mr Micheni said efforts by the union to get answers from the county government over the delay have been futile and they were only left with the option of terminating their services.

He said it is painful that some of the health workers’ school-going children are still at home waiting for their parents to be paid in order to get fees.

The official said the strike will ensure services in every public hospital are paralysed and asked locals to seek services in private hospitals or in neighbouring counties.

“We can confirm that health workers in other 46 counties have been paid their December salaries and Tharaka-Nithi government has no genuine reason for the delay,” he said.

TOP COUNTY OFFICIALS PAID

Knun branch chairman Fabian Marigu said members of the county assembly (MCAs) and other top county officials were paid before breaking for Christmas and questioned why they were discriminated against.

Mr Marigu said failure by the county government to remit statutory deductions to the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF), the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) and bank loans has resulted in penalties with some being blacklisted by banks.

Health executive Magdalene Njeru said the delay was caused by failure in Integrated Financial Management Information System (Ifmis).

She said that salaries for all county workers are being processed and accused the health workers of impatience.

“Their salary is being processed and money will have reflected in their accounts probably by the end of tomorrow (Wednesday),” said Ms Njeru.

The Nation also established that most of the casuals have not been paid for the last five months.

A revenue officer in Chuka Town who asked not to be named for fear of victimisation said she had not been paid for the last five months.

“When we ask for our salary, we are always told there is a problem with Ifmis software and [we are] asked to leave if we are impatient,” she said.

A reliable source from the county government told Nation.co.ke that there is a problem in payment of salaries because there are some positions assigned to more than three workers.

“You will find that five people are working in one barrier collecting revenue and only two are required,” said the source.

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