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Nurses issue Dec 10 strike notice in Sh3bn perks row

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Economy

Seth Panyako
Kenya National Union of Nurses secretary-general, Seth Panyako. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU 

Nurses have issued a strike notice over delays to implement agreed payment of uniform and risk allowances amounting to Sh1 billion.

Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) says they will go on strike from December 10 if the Ministry of Health and counties fail to pay the 26,000 nurses Sh5, 000 each annual uniform allowance and an increase in their risk perks by Sh3,000 to Sh23, 000.

The union says the State has reneged on the perks deal agreed November last year, which helped end five-month strike.

The payment of the perks will raise the nurses wage bill by Sh1 billion this year and up to Sh3.1 billion in the year starting July 2021 amid pressure to contain the ballooning wage bill.

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The bill will be met by the national government for nurses working in referral hospitals like Kenyatta National Hospital and county governments for the rest.

“Further note that after 21 days, and the same shall not be implemented, all our members in the county governments and national referral facilities shall commence strike on December 10,” the KNUN head Seth Panyako told Reuters. The deal said the nurses will get a Sh5,000 annual increase on their uniform allowance for three years starting July 2018 from the current Sh10,000. The nursing allowance was to increase by Sh9,000 and staggered over the three years, making nurses among the highest paid public servants without university degree.

The entry level pay for nurse with a diploma commonly referred to as registered nurse is Sh71,980 and an annual leave allowance of Sh4,000. “You will recall that we have made several attempts by way of correspondence to your offices, including requesting a meeting to discuss and ensure the same is implemented, but to this date nothing tangible has been forthcoming,” said Mr Panyako.

The annual bill for paying 700,000 public employees, including elected leaders, stands at about Sh627 billion, which is nearly half of the government’s revenue.

The Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC), which sets wage levels, has resisted attempts to push for higher salaries, arguing the ballooning wage bill was unsustainable.

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