Provision of healthcare services in 23 Kenyan counties was paralysed on Monday as nurses went on strike to protest delay in the implementation of an agreement to pay them higher salaries.
The nurses’ strike affected critical services in public hospitals where the bulk of Kenya’s low-income earners seek treatment.
Union officials said the strike would continue until a collective bargaining agreement negotiated with their employer in November 2017 is implemented in full.
Seth Panyako, Secretary-General of Kenya National Union of Nurses, said his members would not relent in their push for higher salaries and perks in line with an agreement signed with the employer.
“We are demanding full implementation of the collective bargaining agreement of 2017 before the strike by our members is called off.
“The strike was our last option and hope the stalemate will be solved amicably,” said Panyako.
Earlier on, Ukur Yatani, cabinet secretary for Labour and Social Protection, urged the nurses’ union to call off the strike and embrace dialogue to avoid hurting operations in public health facilities.
Yatani appointed a three-member team to resolve the stalemate between the nurses’ union and the council of governors before the strike kicked off countrywide.
The cabinet secretary demanded that the union representing more than 8000 nurses give an additional one month to facilitate implementation of the deal on salary increase.
Local media reported that the nurses’ strike was taking a toll on healthcare services across 23 counties including the capital, Nairobi.
The paralysis was pronounced in Nairobi and other major towns like Mombasa and Kisumu where outpatient services in public hospitals were grounded due to absence of nurses.
Similarly, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday sent a message of goodwill to the Chinese people ahead of New Year festivities to be marked from Tuesday.
Kenyatta in his salutations underscored the long-standing friendship between Nairobi and Beijing that has unleashed benefits across the social, economic, political and cultural spheres.
“It is a pleasure to send our best wishes to the people of China, and to all those, who will celebrate the Chinese New Year beginning this Tuesday,” said Kenyatta.
“The friendship and partnership between Kenya and China is very old; in recent years, we have drawn even closer together, with tight cooperation now across a whole range of areas, from industry to infrastructure,” he added.
Chinese nationals will celebrate the 2019 New Year or Spring Festival beginning February 5 amid pomp and pageantry.
The 2019 Chinese New Year called the Year of the Pig will provide an opportunity for family reunions and celebration of timeless cultural values and norms that have defined the Asian country.
Kenyatta, who has visited China four times since he was sworn into office in April 2013, in his New Year message hailed bilateral ties with the world’s second largest economy.
“That cooperation has changed the lives of ordinary people in both countries. In Kenya, we see it most clearly in the Standard Gauge Railway, the region’s most ambitious infrastructure project,” said Kenyatta.
He said the China funded modern railway project had reaffirmed the mutual benefits that are likely to be unlocked against a backdrop of robust ties between Nairobi and Beijing.
“I look forward, as do the people of Kenya, to working with China, a true partner and friend, in the year to come,” said Kenyatta.
China has become the leading trading partner and source of foreign direct investments in Kenya since the two countries established diplomatic relationship more than 50 years ago.