Medical practitioners from seventeen cadres of health services including Clinical officers from the entire Bungoma county downed their tools on Thursday and marched peacefully to the office of Bungoma governor Ken Lusaka demanding for the implementation of their allowances.
Led by their chairman Simon Omari, the workers were demonstrating against what they termed as failure by the Bungoma county government to increase their allowances as they had been promised through previous talks and negotiations.
Drawn from different health centers and facilities across the county, they sung songs and danced all the way from the Bungoma referral hospital to the office of the governor that also comprises of other senior county government officers where activities came to a standstill as the demonstrators demanded to be addressed by the governor himself on the matter.
“The government is only concentrating on two cadres in the health sector that is the doctors and nurses and forgetting all about the seventeen cadres of other workers that are also of great importance to the sector hence we are here to demand for our allowances before we can go back to our work,” said Omari.
He said that as a branch they have decided to down their tools for as long as it will take until the allowances that range from Kshs 7500 to 20,000 basing on the job group are included in their salary of this month of February.
“While the doctors and nurses have been on strike we are the people who salvaged the health sector by providing services to Kenyans but we realize that nobody recognizes us and that is why we have come out to demand for our rights,” added Omari.
Under the umbrella of Kenya Health Professional Society, they promised not to go back to work until their allowances were raised.
They pointed out that it was discriminatory for their employer to give allowances to only one cadre of the health sector leaving out the remaining seventeen cadres which are of importance and have a constitutional right to be included in such arrangements.
“The move by the government to give allowances to one cadre of the health sector i.e the nursing service allowance and leaving out the remaining seventeen cadres in the ministry of health is discriminatory and against our constitution that is the supreme law of this country. We therefore demand that our employer pays these allowances as per the negotiation between Kenya Health Professional society and national and county governments,” the chairman read in a statement on behalf of the members.
County officers heckled and denied chance to address the demonstrators
On failing to find the governor of his deputy in office to address them, the demonstrators declined to be addressed by other senior officers from the county terming them as not competent enough to address the matter at hand.
Efforts by the chief officer of public administration David Kibiti to address them were futile and fell on deaf years as the workers claimed that Kibiti is not in a position to address their grievances bearing in mind that he was a teacher by profession and therefore dismissed him as not relevant at that point.
Kibiti courted trouble at the beginning of his speech when he admitted that he was a stranger on the issues being raised by the workers but had come to listen to them on behalf of the governor whom he said was away in a function in Tongaren constituency.
They shouted that they needed the audience of the governor, his deputy, the county secretary or the chief of staff but nobody else among the officers at the county government.
Bungoma Governor Lusaka’s political advisor Wanyonyi Buteyo also faced similar wrath that Kibiti had gone through as they could not hear anything from him when he was introduced to address them on the same matter.
However despite the resistance that they were to camp at the governor’s office until he comes and addresses them, they later on calmed down after being addressed by the deputy county secretary Chrisantus Wamalwa who promised them that their claims were genuine and were being addressed by the county government though they need to give more time for the matter to be fully addressed.
He noted that the procedure of doing such things in government needs time hence they should not expect that such a matter can be implemented on the spot and therefore urged them to be patient as the matter was being addressed.
They later walked out of the governor’s office premises peacefully as they sung and swore not to report back on duty after their leaders told them that their police permit was expected to expire by 1pm and therefore were not ready to engage the police through running battles for holding and illegal demonstration after the stipulated time has elapsed.