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1000 health workers down tools in Kenya

By Asma’u Ahmad

About 1,000 clinical officers, nutritionists, laboratory technicians, mortuary attendants and other 13 cadres of health workers went on strike on Thursday in Kenya’s coastal city of Mombasa, demanding allowance harmonisation.

The health staff left their work stations complaining that the national government awarded nurses a quantum service allowance increase last December and forgot other health workers in the deal. They said they are being discriminated against and treated as outsiders in the health sector.

“We are demanding allowances just like other health workers, we want to be recognized as others because we are a system and nobody is more important than another,” Joash Matonda, one of the health workers said.

Mr. Matonda, who is the Secretary General of Kenya Health Professional Society Mombasa County, said the government’s decision to only award nurses allowance increase was unfair to other health practitioners.

“Clinical officers, nutritionists, lab technicians are the ones who do the donkey work. You cannot award nurses allowances and forget other cadres,” he said.

The nurses, through the Kenya National Nurses Union, had on Dec. 5, 2016 gone on strike demanding the allowances increase.

On December 11, 2016, the government and nurses union signed a duty resumption agreement after their allowances were increased.

According to the agreement, the nurses in Job Group G-L were to receive a top up of $200 and those in Job Group M and above get $150 from January.

The latest strike is likely to worsen the country’s health sector that is currently facing challenges following the doctors’ strike that entered its 81st day on Thursday.

Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union maintains that the doctors’ strike would be still on until the government honour the 2013 Collective Bargaining Agreement.

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