Nurses have dismissed claims that they are pushing for their own commission as “unfortunate, misleading and desperate”.
Kenya National Union of Nurses Secretary-General Seth Panyako on Sunday said it was diversionary for the Salaries and Remuneration Commission to ask for funds from Parliament to “complete a non-strategic exercise while sidelining the pay deal on flimsy grounds”.
According to Mr Panyako, nurses had ceded a lot of ground in trying to end the four-month strike and did not see the SRC statement as a sign of goodwill.
“The demand for the creation of a commission is not an item or part of the CBA and neither is it in our list of priorities,” Mr Panyako said in a statement to newsrooms.
He also accused SRC of applying double standards when dealing with collective bargaining agreements.
“SRC approved CBAs for doctors and university lecturers, which cost Sh8 billion and Sh10.2 billion, respectively, while it refused to endorse that of nurses which was only Sh7.8 billion and instead opted to politicise the matter,” he said.
Last week, SRC vice chairman Daniel Ogutu told lawmakers that the commission was not responsible for the nurses’ strike now in its 126th day.
The SRC on Wednesday said the job boycott was beyond the salary raise and job evaluation it undertook.
Mr Ogutu told MPs that the caregivers were pushing for their own commission.
Whereas the union says it has ceded ground, the Health Ministry and county bosses do not feel the same.
As a result, some devolved units have already suspended salaries for nurses on strike.
“When governors met Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu, we agreed that if nurses on strike do not return to work within the timeline given, we should stop their salaries,” Council of Governors chairman Josephat Nanok said on Friday.
At the same time, Dr Mailu said meetings with nurses were not yielding fruits “because the union leadership is not sincere”.
“It is unfortunate that the strike has unnecessarily dragged for this long. We cannot continue to subject Kenyans to agony,” Dr Mailu said while signing a return-to-work agreement with clinical officers.
“We invited the union on Monday last week, had good discussions and agreed on what we can and cannot deliver. The union leaders requested for time to seek guidance from members but they have not come back.”
Dr Mailu asked nurses to understand that dialogue followed processes and regulations which must be adhered to.
Nurses have been adamant that they will not resume duty until the two levels of government implement their salary deal.