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The Council of Governors on Saturday said it expects the nurses’ strike standoff to be resolved the soonest to avert paralysing health services across the country.

Labour CS Ukur Yattani appointed Harun Mwaura, Abisai Abenge (FKE) and Benson Okwaro of Cotu as the lead conciliators in pay talks.

The ministry also asked the Kenya union of Nurses to call off the strike to pave the way for the conciliation process.

“We thank the ministry for appointing a conciliation committee to assist both levels of government resolve this impasse. We laud this step as it will mitigate any service delivery interruptions to Kenyans,” CoG chairman Wycliffe Oparanya said.

The nurses’ union has called for a nationwide strike from Monday 4, while the clinical officers have also given a 14-day strike notice.

This emerged as the Star exclusively reported how huge pay disparities among various professionals working for devolved units has become a thorn in the flesh for counties.

Employees from some disciplines like nursing take home fat allowances on top of their basic pay.

This disparity has triggered fears that awarding them more pay could trigger similar demands from other county workers.

Nurses are demanding enhanced salaries and allowances based on the Collective Bargain Agreement with counties and the national government.

The twin strikes would cripple critical health services at the public health facilities and pose a nightmare for Kenyans seeking treatment.

According to confidential documents seen by the Star, should governors give in to nurses’ demands then that could cause incessant salary demands by other professions.

“It is important to relook at the issues being advanced with a view to the prevailing economic situation and the inherent risks that would trigger a huge ripple effect,” notes the draft report.

According to the report, which has tabulated the pay disparities among various professions at the counties, nurses’ gross monthly income is nearly double that of engineers, architects and surveyors joining public service from universities.

A graduate engineer at job group K earns a basic salary of Sh35,260, a house allowance of Sh7500 and a commuter allowance of Sh5,000 bringing their gross monthly gross to Sh47,760.

An engineer or an architect with a diploma who joins the service in job group H earns a basic salary Sh24,380, a house allowance of Sh3,400 and a commuter allowance of Sh4,000, bringing the gross to sh31,000.

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However, a nurse with a diploma holder nurse enters job group K, same as a graduate engineer with starting salary of Sh34,260. The nurse at this level is entitled to a house allowance of Sh16,500, risk allowance of Sh3,850, nursing allowance of Sh20,000 per month, extraneous allowance of Sh20,000, commuter allowance of Sh5,000, uniform allowance of Sh833 and uniform allowance of Sh500 per month. This brings the total earnings to Sh111,433 per month.

This nearly thrice what an engineer, architect or a surveyor with a degree earns.

The disparity is huge in the case of a graduate nurse who starts with a basic salary of Sh39,110, nursing allowance of Sh20,000, commuter allowance of SH6000, extraneous allowance of SH20,000, risk allowance of Sh3,850 and house allowance of Sh28,000.

Nurses have vowed to go on strike from next week on Monday if the government does not honour a new pay deal.

They want full implementation of the negotiated return to work formula entered on November 2017. They want enhanced house allowance and uniform allowance.

Some 23 counties have not struck a deal with nurses while the rest have working terms.

The clinical officers, considered critical in the delivery of health services in the absence of doctors, on Wednesday issued a 14-day strike notice to the CoG and the ministries of Health and Labour.

“We, therefore, demand that the Ministry of Health and counties jointly as a group of employers resume CBA negotiations centrally as a group of employers within the next 14 days failure of which the union will undertake industrial action as provided for by the law,” reads the strike notice.

The notice is signed by chairman Peterson Wachira and general secretary George Gibore.

The union, which is pushing for uniform working conditions and terms of services for its members across all the 47 counties, said they have decided to issue the strike notice because of lack of commitment from the other parties to resolve the matter.

“We have tried on numerous occasions to get an appointment to resolve this matter but our efforts have been unfruitful,” reads the notice in part.

“We have also appeared before the Senate Health Committee for mediation unsuccessfully which leaves the union with no other alternative dispute resolution mechanism.”

The union accuses the GoG of being a stumbling block in the conciliation efforts, saying by the conciliator summoning each county independently is frustrating.

The 20,000-strong member union went on strike in October 2017 but called off the strike after agreeing on a return to work formula with counties.

Part of the deal was the negotiation of a CBA within 60 days but there has been a stalemate.

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