The Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) is now demanding compensation of families of 26 nurses who succumbed to Covid-19 before resuming duty.
Speaking on Monday, KNUN Secretary-General Seth Panyako said that a total of 23,000 nurses have started industrial action and will only resume duty when their demands are met by the government.
“We have about 26,000 nurses, but those from Kenyatta National Hospital ad Moi Teaching and Referral will not down tools because the two institutions had made arrangements with the nurses,” said Panyako.
Panyako accused the government of doing little to protect the lives of the frontline healthcare workers.
“How many nurses must die for the government to come in? We need an insurance cover for our nurses before we can go back to work,” he said.
“We have been left on our own, when a nurse dies, we form WhatsApp groups to contribute money yet we work for the government.”
The nurses union boss said that Covid-19 has been declared Occupational hazard, therefore, the 26 nurses who have succumbed to the disease so far, must be compensated.
According to Panyako, recent talks with the government have not been fruitful hence the decision to continue with the strike.
“We sent our officials to negotiate on our behalf, but nothing much to warrant strike suspension has happened, ” he added.
Yesterday, the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) called off their planned strike in the last minute to give room for dialogue.
The doctors, however, noted that if the issue will not be resolved within the next two weeks, their strike will commence on December 21.
Panyako said nurses won’t suspend their strike like the doctors because the government has not shown any commitment in addressing their concerns.
“We are not suspending our strikes, doctors have the best allowances with a risk allowance of Sh20,000 compared to nurses’ Sh3,800 so they don’t know what we nurses go through,” he said.
Panyako said that nurses will only go back to work if the government pays pending salaries and allowances as well as provide them with necessary gear such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), key in the fight against Coronavirus.