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Normal health services set to resume in city hospitals as court suspends medics’ strike

Normal operations are set to resume in Nairobi County hospitals after the Employment and Labour Relations court suspended an ongoing strike by health care workers.
This is after the striking health care workers agreed to suspend their strike in compliance with the court order.
Lady Justice Maureen Onyango temporarily suspended the strike by the health workers under the Kenyan National Union of Nurses, Kenya Union of Clinical Officers and three other unions after NMS filed an application before the court.
The judge ordered that the matter be heard inter partes next week, November 11, 2020 together with a similar case involving the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) against the Major General Mohammed Badi-led administration.
“In the meantime, the strike notice dated October 16, 2020, calling upon the members of the respondents to picket and/or demonstrate at KICC Building starting from November 1, 2020 is suspended pending inter partes hearing of this application,” read the Tuesday court order.
Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) had moved to the court on Friday last week under certificate of urgency seeking for a suspension of the ongoing strike by the health workers.
“Following the orders of the court issued on November 3, 2020 by Lady Justice Maureen Onyango, members of the unions herein are therefore notified of the suspension of the strike in compliance with the above cited court order arising from application filed by NMS,” read a letter jointly signed by the Unions’ officials.
“By a copy of this letter, all members herein are hereby ordered to resume duties immediately and not later than 48 hours and to continue offering health-care services in their respective work stations,” continued the letter dated November 4, 2020.
The health workers had downed their tools on Monday protesting over delayed promotions and re-designations while also accusing NMS of going against a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) signed between the parties in September this year.
This followed a strike notice issued by the health workers to NMS on October 16, 2020 expressing their intention to down their tools starting November 2, 2020 complaining of a breach of the agreement.
However, Kenya Union of Clinical Officers Nairobi branch secretary Tom Nyakaba, who also doubles up as the Nairobi health caucus secretary, said that they will abide by the court order but warned that their grievances must be addressed by NMS through full implementation of the return-to-work formula they had inked with the new office.
“We are not going back this time without our return-to-work formula implemented fully and we are not begging. This is our right,” said Mr Nyakaba.
On her part, NMS Director of Health Services Dr Josephine Kibaru-Mbae said they are in the process of implementing the return-to-work formula including promotion and medical cover.
On promotions, she said close to 100 doctors, eligible for promotion, have received their promotion letters as well as getting paid millions in arrears for the months of August and September.
“This is an ongoing process and more health workers will receive their letters until all eligible staff are promoted. Other health workers are being promoted every month, so far about 100 have received their letters,” said Dr Kibaru-Mbae.
On matters medical cover, the director said that their attempt to have the health workers covered by the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) hit a dead end after City Hall procured AAR insurance policy for all county staff, including those seconded to NMS.
“We wanted to put all seconded health workers under the NHIF cover but we were told we could not procure another health cover since the county government had already struck a deal with AAR,” she explained.