Strike crisis deepens as Oparanya hires 60 new medics

Wednesday, January 27th, 2021 00:00 | By
Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya. Photo/PD/Bernard Malonza

Dennis Lumiti    

The standoff between Kakamega County Government and health workers has taken a different twist after Governor Wycliffe Oparanya hired 60 nurses to replace those on strike.  

On Monday, Oparanya presided over issuance of appointment letters to the health workers at Bukhungu Stadium. 

A tough-talking Oparanya told the striking health workers “to return to work on his terms or go and look for jobs elsewhere.”

He said the county government had embarked on a process to recruit nurses and other medics. The 60 were the first lot.

“Nurses are some of the well-paid county workers. They earn even higher than engineers.

Why should they subject us to constant threats and intimidation when we do our best to make them comfortable,?” he posed.

County boss said the  60 nurses will be distributed in health facilities across the county, and that fresh recruitment for others will follow in due course.

But leaders of unions representing medics said they are not opposed to the hiring of new nurses and other health workers because it was part of their demands.

“In fact we are still asking for  940 nurses more. We had initially, asked for 1,000 to raise the number from the current 1,331 to 2,331,” said the Kenya National Union of Nurses Kakamega County Chairman Renson Bulunya.

 He said they were not moved by Oparanya’s threat to sack them, because there was no court order declaring their strike as illegal.

Registers dispute

“We do not have any court orders declaring the strike illegal and unprotected.

The court order we have says the two parties should register their dispute with the Labour Cabinet Secretary, which has not been done because governors, led by Oparanya, have declined,” he said.

He said even the move to stop paying the striking health workers was illegal and would be challenged in court.

“The governor has obstructed any kind of dialogue that a number of his colleagues elsewhere have done and ended the industrial action,” said the trade unionist.

Bulunya further added they would be back in court today for the hearing of the dispute while the National Conciliator will be releasing his report about the dispute in Nairobi tomorrow, which will determine their next course of action.

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