Kenya Union of Clinical Officers Announces Nationwide Strike Effective from Midnight

Clinical students during a training exercise.

The Kenya Union of Clinical Officers announced the withdrawal of its officers from all public hospitals effective midnight May 15, 2024. 

This was after the Employment and Labour Relations Court (ELRC) in Nairobi warned counties against harassing clinical officers who would be taking part in the strike. 

"Our strike is protected, the court buttressed this by protecting our members from harassment or disciplinary processes by the 47 Counties and Ministry of Health. Meanwhile, we are withdrawing all Clinical Officers from MOH facilities from midnight today," KUCO announced in a statement.

Clinical officers in Kenya stand in for doctors in the provision of primary healthcare services.

Aerial view of Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH).
Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH)

The strike threatens to plunge the country into a health crisis, especially in rural areas where there are no doctors and private hospitals are few and expensive.

Additionally, the strike will paralyse services in almost every public hospital in Kenya as clinical officers offer 99 per cent of outpatient clinical services.

The strike by clinicians entered day 45 but this is the first time KUCO is asking for complete downing of tools from all public health facilities. 

The clinicians have been demonstrating and demanding their 2021 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) be implemented.

ELRC issued a notice protecting the clinical officers a day after talks with governors collapsed after the county bosses remarked that the CBA was signed by the national government and not the devolved units.

"The parties to proceed towards negotiations to resolve the dispute in good faith per meeting scheduled for May 14, and thereafter as appropriate," ELRC had directed.

"Pending amicable negotiations and resolution of dispute the respondents (governors) by themselves, their agencies, officers or agents are hereby prohibited from harassing, intimidating, punishing or initiating or continuing disciplinary process against union members on account of raising the grievances in dispute and any proceedings in that regard are hereby stayed."

The case will be mentioned on June 5, or soon thereafter to record compromise or further orders.

The withdrawal of clinical officers happens barely a week after Kenyan doctors signed a return-to-work formula with the Ministry of Health and Council of Governors following a two-month strike.

Governor Wailes Ahmed Abdullahi and Council's Health Committee Chairperson, Muthomi Njuki, signing return-to-work agreement, May 3.
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