Seventeen cadres of health professionals demanding better workplace protections in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak in the country have issued a 14-day strike notice to the government.
Nurses, clinical officers, medical lab technicians, pharmacy technicians, nutritionists and health professionals bodies have said they will commence their strike on May 18 should their demands not be met.
Leaders of Kenya National Union of Nurses (Knun), Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (Kuco), Kenya National Union of Medical Laboratory Officers, Kenya National Union of Pharmaceutical Technologists, among others accused the government of sidelining health workers at a time when they are taking all risks to fight the virus.
The strike notice was announced on Monday by Mohammed Duba, the chairman of the umbrella body of Kenya Health Professionals Society (KHPS).
“We reiterate our goodwill to support the government during this period…and once more appeal to the government to address the issues within 14 days from today failure to which the unions will commence a nationwide strike,” he said.
The medics are demanding harmonisation of risk allowances to Sh30,000 across all cadres. They say currently some workers get Sh20,000 and others Sh3,000.
Clinical officers’ union secretary-general George Gibore said some health workers have stagnated in one job group for over 10 years despite continuous signed agreements between employers and unions that are never implemented.
“The ministry has promoted doctors leaving out the other cadres, which is affecting the morale of other healthcare workers,” he said.
Representatives of the workers further accused the government of taking their safety for granted.
Mr Gibore stated that there have been several occasions were suspected coronavirus patients are handled by health workers who only have face masks.
Some 12 health workers have contracted the virus, with four still fighting for their lives.
Mr Gibore also said that most health workers were having challenges with transport, with reported cases of police harassment and arrest on their way home from duty.