Health

Clinical officers end nationwide strike with return-to-work agreement

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KUCO Secretary General George Gibore called off the strike, which had lasted for more than three months after signing the agreement. 

The Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (KUCO) called off their countrywide strike on Monday after agreeing on a return-to-work formula with the Council of Governors.

KUCO Secretary General George Gibore called off the strike, which had lasted for more than three months after signing the agreement.

The return-to-work formula agreement highlights that county governments must promptly initiate the promotion and re-designation of clinical officers, adhering to current public service guidelines and policies. This process should commence within one month and be finalised no later than September 1, 2024.

Additionally, county governments are obligated to replace officers who have left due to natural attrition and recruit clinical officers annually. These recruitments should be contingent upon available resources and guided by staffing norms and establishment requirements.

Also, the agreement mandates the Ministry of Health to allocate sufficient funds to counties for Universal Health Coverage and to cover COVID-19 employees' salaries at current market rates.

Members of the Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (KUCO) during a past protest. (Photo: File)

Employers are also required to initiate negotiations for a Collective Bargaining Agreement and finalise it within 60 days from the date of executing the RTWF.

"The proposed risk allowance shall be negotiated and paid upon approval by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission," reads the document.

Clinical officers commenced their strike on April 1, following a seven-day strike notice issued on March 25. On June 23, they reiterated their commitment to continuing the strike until all their grievances were addressed.

During the strike, clinical officers demanded that both the national and county governments issue confirmation letters on permanent and pensionable terms for UHC staff hired during the COVID-19 period.

 They also called for the recruitment of over 20,000 unemployed and qualified clinical officers by the national government and counties to address the current staffing shortage.

Additionally, the union urged the government to provide comprehensive medical cover for all active clinical officers in the public sector, ensuring they have access to healthcare services wherever needed.

Meanwhile, the Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) yesterday, resumed planned protests meant to push the government into posting 1,500 intern doctors. The intense and other medics camped at Afya House, the Ministry of Health headquarters until late into the night to heap pressure on the government.

Davji Atellah, KMPDU Secretary General, said the 'Occupy Afya House' protests were triggered by Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha’s broken promises. He also refuted reports claiming that the protests were called off.

"Reports circulating to the effect that #OccupyMoH has been suspended are false. The union handle has been compromised, and we are trying our best to gain control of it and clean."

"We must overhaul the system, including those that have hacked the union handles. We remain strong. We remain focused."

Intern doctors wave placards with messages criticising Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha during a protest outside Afya House, where the ministry's offices are located, on July 8, 2024. (Photo: Charity Kilei/EV)

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