Leaders of the Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) warned on Friday, February 15, that nurses will continue to strike across the country despite an order to return to work by 08:00 (local time). On Wednesday, February 13, President Uhuru Kenyatta issued a directive for the nurses to return to work or face being dismissed by the counties and the Health ministry. Kenyatta also said that the National Police Service has been authorized to take action against individuals who harass public servants who are going to work. However, KNUN Secretary-General Seth Panyako announced on Thursday, February 14, that the strike will continue and that he has no power to call off the work stoppage since the action was organized by the county unions. Associated protests and significant disruptions to health services are expected at all health facilities in the affected counties until the end of the strike.
The nationwide strike began on February 4, after KNUN leaders accused county governors delayed implementing a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) signed in November 2017. On February 5, a court order was issued to suspend the strike for 60 days to allow for negotiations; however, the nurses ignored the order. The government filed a contempt of court case against KNUN on February 11 after the nurses failed to return to work.
The 2017 agreement signed between KNUN and the government came into effect on November 2. Under the CBA, nurses were expected to receive service and uniform allowances. The Cabinet Secretary for Labour and Social Protection asked the union to suspend the strike on February 3, stating that a conciliation committee has been created to file a report within 30 days.
Individuals in Kenya are advised to avoid any demonstrations due to the potential for violence, to confirm medical appointments, and to anticipate severely reduced services and long waiting times at hospitals.
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