The National Advisory Council of the Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (KUCO) has issued a 14-day strike notice over poor working conditions at workplaces amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement on Sunday, the union cited lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) as one of the main challenges the healthcare workers are currently facing.
KUCO National Chairman Peterson Wachira said so far seven clinical workers have succumbed to Covid-19 related complications.
The latest victim is David Makori, a cataract surgeon based in Kisii, who passed on yesterday.
Wachira said that majority of the deaths within the medical fraternity are as a result of the government’s failure to implement health guidelines that would see healthcare workers in the vulnerable group exempted from work.
“We have been asking the government to exempt the vulnerable from duty, the late was part of that…We gave an ultimatum of 7 days but they have turned a deaf ear, no response from employers and our vulnerable continue to be exposed. The government needs to learn to listen to experts because that is not happening,” said Wachira.
“We are giving a strike notice of 14 days. If they go to court and stop that, we will invoke the occupational hazard act that will force us to leave our workspaces until they are safe. We are demanding, it is not optional, that a Health Service Commission (HSC) must be constituted in amendment of the constitution, we can’t continue to take medical workers lives for a ride.”
On his part, KUCO Secretary General George Kebore noted that delayed salaries had demoralised clinical officers.
According to Kabore, clinical workers employed under the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) have not been paid for 6 months and have no COVID-19 allowance.
He noted that in Vihiga County alone 567 healthcare workers have not been paid for 13 months now.
The union issued irreducible minimums clinical workers want implemented failure to which they will down their tools. They include provision of adequate PPEs, exemption of all healthcare workers belonging to vulnerable groups, medical cover for members, as well as payment of all pending salaries.
Other demands include health risk allowances, employment of 3,000 clinical officers on permanent and pensionable terms and introduction of the HSC in the health amendment bill.
They also want all promotions to be effected and arrears paid as per the Return-To-Work Formula signed in October 2017.