The National Advisory Council of the Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (KUCO) has issued the government a 14-day strike notice citing poor working conditions at the workplace amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a statement dated Sunday, November 22, 2020, the union cited the lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) as the main challenges the clinical officers face.
KUCO National chairman Peterson Wachira noted that seven healthcare workers have succumbed to Covid-19 related complications so far.
The latest clinical officer to die is David Makori, a cataract surgeon based in Kisii, who passed on yesterday, Saturday, November 21.
The Union chair noted that the majority of the deaths within the medical fraternity are due to the government’s failure to implement health protocols that would see healthcare workers in the frontline exempted from work.
Wachira further said that despite being an ultimatum of 7 days to exempt the vulnerable workers from duty, the government had turned a deaf ear with no response from employers as the vulnerable continue to be exposed to the deadly virus.
According to Wachira, if the government goes to court and stop the strike, they will invoke the occupational hazard act that will force the workers to leave their workplace until it feels safe to continue working.
He maintained that it is a demand, not an option, that a Health Service Commission (HSC) must be constituted in the amendment of the constitution.
On his part, Secretary-General of the Union George Kebore said that delayed salaries had demoralized clinical officers.
Kebore noted that clinical officers employed under the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) have not been paid for the last six months and have no Covid-19 allowance.
He said that in Vihiga County alone, 567 workers had not been paid for more than a year now.
KUCO issued irreducible minimums clinical officers want to be implemented, failure to which they will kick off the strike.
They include the provision of adequate PPEs, exemption of all healthcare workers belonging to vulnerable groups, medical insurance for members, and payment of all pending salaries.