NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 14 – National Police Service Inspector General Joseph Boinnet has assured nurses willing to resume work of their safety, vowing to crack the whip on protesting nurses with intent to obstruct colleagues reporting back to work on Friday.
Boinnet told Capital FM News an order issued by President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday directing all striking nurses to report back to work by 8am on Friday will be enforced in its entirety.
“Anyone who interrupts the nurses willing to go back to work will be dealt with in accordance with the law,” he warned.
“We will not allow people not willing to work to disrupt those who are ready to go back to work as per the president’s directive,” the IG warned.
Kenyatta had following a meeting with Council of Governors (CoG) representatives lead by Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya at State House directed respective County Governments and the Ministry of Health to dismiss nurses who fail to heed to the directive.
He termed the nurses’ strike illegal since it violates an order by the Employment and Labour Relations Court suspending the industrial action for 60 days.
“One of the most important principles upon which our Republic is established is the rule of law – no one is above the law. Obeying court orders is not optional but a requirement to all of us,” Kenyatta said.
He warned the Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) against intimidating health workers willing to resume duty directing the police to take decisive action against protesters obstructing those willing to work.
“As the Commander-in-Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces, I have instructed the National Police Service to take decisive action against those picketers who may intimidate or otherwise harass public servants who intend to go to work,” President Kenyatta ordered.
Responding to Kenyatta’s order, Seth Panayako, KNUN’s Secretary General said nurses will not be cowed into silence.
“We shall face them anywhere including in courts of law. We’re capable to defend our members,” he said.
In his address on Wednesday, Kenyatta noted with concern the huge sums of money gobbled up in recurrent expenditure, saying at least 87.3 per cent of county budgets were channelled to expenses other than capital spending.
“In the 2017/2018 financial year alone, as an example, County Governments spent approximately 87.3 per cent of their entire budgets on recurrent expenditure, leaving only a meagre 12.7 per cent for development,” he stated.
The strike which entered its second week on Monday was suspended by the court on February 5 to give room for conciliation talks spearheaded by the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection.
Labour and Social Protection Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani had on Monday last week asked KNUN officials to call off a planned strike in 23 counties to provide room for dialogue.
“You’re expected to stop the industrial action and submit before the committee, process the matter, with a view of getting a solution. If a party is here and at the same time asking its members to proceed with the strike that is in breach of the law and that party will be cited in contempt,” he said on Monday last week.
The CS urged parties to the dispute to file memoranda with the committee within thirty days to expedite the process.
“Procedurally, all parties are expected to present memoranda outlining their issues so that they can be processed,” he said.
Panyako however dismissed Yantai’s appeal saying the strike would continue as planned.
“We’ve 11 counties so far where nurses have downed tools so far. We’re talking of about 8,000 nurses,” he said.
According to Panyako only Machakos, Mombasa and Migori had honoured a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) signed in November 2017, with three others re-committing to the same.
The 23 counties affected by the strike include Nairobi, Kisumu, Homa Bay, Murang’a, Kisii, Embu, Kiambu, Garissa and Elgeyo Marakwet.
Others are Nyandarua, Nyeri, Samburu, Elgeyo Marakwet, Kirinyaga, Marsabit, Trans Nzoia, Tharaka Nithi, West Pokot, Kitui, Wajir, Kwale, Mandera and Taita Taveta.
On Wednesday, Panyako said nurses in Murang’a, Nakuru, Siaya, Busia, Bomet, Makueni, and Tana River will join their striking colleagues on Monday.
Nurses in Uasin Gishu and Isiolo will down their tools on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively according to Panyako.