Kenyan public health care workers end mass strike

Thursday 15th, March 2012 / 23:07 Written by

 Last Wednesday thousands of Kenyan public health care workers decided to end their 2 week strike after a meeting with Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

Beginning of March Kenyan public health care workers, mostly nurses, decided to stop their work and strike against the Governmental failure to implement agreed salary increase, allowances and better work conditions. The mass strike had a big impact on the public health care, sending hundreds of patients home, sometimes without any treatment. Those who could afford private care where brought to private hospitals in the area.

On the 8th of March the Kenyan Government announced that they would sack all of the 25,000 striking health care workers if they would not resume duty before 2p.m. Government spokesman Alfred Mutua said that the country

can no longer sit and watch as Kenyans suffer in hospitals without medical attention because nurses and other medical staff are on strike. The names of the 25,000 nurses who are on strike have been removed from the pay roll. They are no longer employees of the government.

Mutua called the nurses ‘unethical’ for not returning to work when they are needed. Even after the warning on Thursday, hundreds of public health care workers marched the streets of Nairobi on Friday demanding better payment.


10 March: The Parliamentary Committee on Health addressed the government, warning them that they are not supporting the sacking and that it will only worsen the current health care situation within the country, as the country already experiences a shortage of nurses.
Nyando Member of Parliament Fred Outa, who is a member of the committee, asked both sides to “return to the dialogue table and espouse the spirit of openness.”

What happens if the government discovers it has not enough retirees and interns to do the job?

Chairman Robert Monda asked, saying the government should have hired new nurses first before firing those in the service.

On the 13th of March the Kenya Union of Nurses went to court in order to block the Governmental decision to sack all 25,000 striking health care workers.

We are moving to court and probably by tomorrow (14th of March) the order stopping the government from interdicting, suspending or preferring any disciplinary action on the workers who participated in the strike will be granted,

Seth Sindano, general secretary of the Kenya Union of Nurses said according to

At that time the first people got their salary stopped with a warning to resume work within seven days and others received a suspension letter even after showing up at work. Tom Odego, secretary general of the Kenya Civil Servants Union, reacted:

Suspensions won’t work because our members are resuming duty and we have convinced all of them to go back to work. The problem we had was to raise the awareness of grievances. We are looking for solutions now through this joint committee therefore intimidation can only work against getting solutions.

He’s further quoted:

those to take responsibility for the strike should be the leaders of health society.

Health care workers finally ended their strike on the 14th of March. After a four hour crises meeting with the health workers, the Union of Kenya Civil Servants and the Prime Minister Raila Odinga, the health care workers decided to end their two weeks long mass-strike and resumed working.

The meeting agreed that the ongoing health workers strike should be called off immediately and all the officers return to work unconditionally, a statement from Odinga’s office said. None of them will be sacked. Letters which had been sent to some of them, we have been assured, will be withdrawn.
It was also agreed that all the issues raised by the workers will be addressed exhaustively. The quick gains are to be implemented immediately while matters with budgetary implications would be addressed with effect from July 1,

said Khang’ati, Assistant Minister in the Prime Minister’s office. He added:

Health workers who fail to report to duty by the end of Thursday March 15 would be liable for disciplinary action individually and in accordance with existing regulations for public servants.

As an act of good faith the unions withdrew their accusations.

On the 21th of March a task force made out of representatives from negotiating parties will take a closer look to resolve the problems which caused the strike that paralyzed the public health sector.

We are in agreement that the problems facing u currently cannot be sorted in a day and we need the taskforce to look into the issues conclusively the problem is not only money. – Tom Odege of the Union of Kenya Civil Servants


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