President Uhuru Kenyatta today delivered a statement concerning the ongoing health workers strike. This is what he had to say.
This morning, I held a meeting with the leadership of the Ministry of Health and the Council of Governors to discuss the important issue of the provision of health services in our country. As the National and County Governments, we have a cardinal responsibility to provide adequate and accessible health care to all Kenyans.
In the 2017/2018 Financial year alone, as an example, County Governments spent approximately 87.3% of their entire budgets on Recurrent expenditure, leaving only a meagre 12.7% for Development. This is not in accordance with the objects of devolution under Article 174 of our Constitution. Indeed, the spirit of Devolution was to bring services closer to wananchi and the situation is clearly not desirable.
Human resources, including our nurses make up an important component in the provision of health services in our country. Our Government appreciates the hard work and dedication of thousands of the nursing personnel working in public hospitals in all corners of our Republic. To this end, over the last few years, we have sought to continually improve the working conditions and remuneration of all cadres of personnel in the health sector who are critical players in the implementation of our Big Four Agenda of providing Affordable Healthcare to all Kenyans, affordable housing, affordable food and jobs for our young men and women by the year 2022.
It is therefore greatly disheartening to learn that that some of our nurses have decided to engage in against the determination of the Employment and Labour Relations Court, which suspended any industrial action for sixty days pending conciliation meetings between the County Governments, Ministry of Health and the Nurses’ Union. Moreover, it is disheartening to hear officials of the Nurses Union declare that they will not obey these Court Orders.
One of the most important principles on which our Republic is established is the Rule of Law. No one is above the law. Obeying Court orders is not optional; it is a requirement for all of us, no matter their place in society.
Our Constitution and various labour laws, while granting the right to picket and participate in strikes, also provide for the process of determining public service remuneration by the Salaries Remuneration Commission whose advice has equally been disregarded.
Consequently, we have jointly agreed to take the following urgent actions:
a) All nurses should resume duty with immediate effect and in any case not later than Friday the 15th of February 2019 at 8:00 a.m.
b) As the Commander-in-Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces, I have instructed the National Police Service to take stern action against those picketers who may intimidate or otherwise harass the public servants who intend to go to work.
c) Accordingly, any nurse who fails to report to work as directed above will be dismissed by the County Governments and the Ministry of Health.
d) The respective County Governments will therefore be at liberty to undertake any action, as they deem appropriate, against personnel who fail to resume duty as directed by the Employment and Labour Relations Court.
In conclusion, fellow Kenyans, we have a clear development agenda. And as an investment destination and a Government that seeks to provide services to her people, we cannot allow unlawful industrial actions to derail us from our focus of taking Kenya forward.
I thank you.