Nurses teargassed in march to Parliament

Nurses on Thursday camped outside the Ministry of Health headquarters for nearly two hours demanding to have an audience with Health Cabinet Secretary  Cleopa Mailu.

They also gave their colleagues who had resumed work 24 hours to rejoin their strike which is now in its fourth month.

Speaking outside Afya House, Kenya National Union of Nurses (Knun) secretary general Seth Panyako said nurses would not resume duty until the Salaries and Remuneration Commission re-evaluated their job groups.

“It is unacceptable to categorise nurses in the same job group as people who do manual work,” said Mr Panyako,

The nurses had camped outside the building for over two hours, listening to speeches by their leaders as they prepared to proceed to Parliament.


But as soon as the small crowd of nurses started their march, police hurled tear gas canisters at them, triggering chaos.

A few nurses were also arrested in the commotion but were later released by police.

“The tear gas should be used on people who are rioting and  destroying property but not nurses who have never been violent,” said Mr Panyako.

The action by security officers disrupted the procession of nurses who had intended to march to Parliament in a show of protest over the State’s failure to sign their Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

Speaking to the Nation on Thursday, Nairobi Police boss  Japheth Koome said his officers had taken action to prevent the nurses from damaging the gate to the ministry headquarters as they attempted to force their way in.


“As police officers, we are mandated by the law to disperse any gathering that turns violent and unlawful. Would you expect us to sit back and allow the nurses to destroy government property in the name of demonstrating?” Mr Koome posed.

He said he had no apologies to make over the incident and vowed to take the same step should the nurses attempt to resume their demos at Afya House.

But Mr Panyako accused the government of using what he termed “rogue police officers” to intimidate the health workers, whose strike has now entered day 117.

“You cannot pay a few crooks in the name of police officers within the police service to misuse public funds. Their tear gas must be used on those who are rioting and destroying property instead of nurses who have never been violent,” said Mr Panyako.

He asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to transfer Dr Mailu to the livestock ministry, alleging that he had failed to handle the health docket. 


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