The Central Organization of Trade Unions, COTU (K) is increasingly concerned over the casual manner in which the county governments continue to address the crisis in the Health Sector following the on-going Industrial action by our health workers.

Particularly, the response yesterday by the chairman of the Council of Governors, Hon Wycliffe Oparanya dismissing the strike action as not protected and that governors are not ready  to listen to the striking health workers because they “earn more than enough”  was unfortunate and aims to provoke the striking  workers further.

COTU (K) considers these utterances by the Chairman of the Council of Governors to be absolutely unacceptable, totally ill-advised and morally wrong for a leader of the Chairman of Governors’ stature and together with his colleagues he should now take responsibility for the crisis this country faces in the health sector.

Kenya is a signatory to various international instruments governing the world of work including International Labour Organization’s Convention C098 and C154 on the Rights to Organize and to Collective Bargaining as well as C144 on Tripartite Consultations and the Chairman of the Council of Governors should know that chest-thumping and threats targeting the striking health workers will not provide any solution but rather let the county governments under his leadership agree to dialogue with our frontline health workers and agree on  a return-to-work formula that will end the stalemate in the sector.

COTU (K) appreciates the initiative being made by the national government through the two ministries of Health and Labour and Social Protection and the Council of Governors should take a cue from these initiative and find a better way to engage these health workers for the sake of the many suffering Kenyans who require their services.

At the same time, County Governments should stop politicizing Industrial Relations’ matters and it would be prudent for Hon. Oparanya as a leader to respond cautiously, responsibly and intelligently to the demands by health workers and not to respond as if he has just landed from the moon and with a huge big-man-syndrome because what these health workers are demanding isn’t his personal money; let him keep his personal cash but as the chairman of the Council of Governors he should be alive to the fact that these workers are demanding for a rightful budgetary allocation for both national and county governments to address their health obligations to the citizens.

Kenya is trading on not so comfortable grounds and now that our children are in school, should a further pandemic hit us and God forbid, this country will be in a situation unprecedented; we shouldn’t allow ourselves to get there as a result of such irresponsible and crude utterances from leaders who have perfected the art of arrogance whenever they are before a microphone.

The entire leadership of all these frontline health workers have and continue to express their willingness to enter into dialogue with both levels of government and it is only responsible that our political leaders reciprocated this gesture and listened to these workers’ grievances other than being dismissive and arrogant in their public responses.

Dr. Francis Atwoli, NOM (DZA), CBS, EBS, MBS


Jacqueline Kamau

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