Nurses in Nandi County have called off their strike and turned their guns on union boss Seth Panyako, accusing him of engaging in an illegality.
The Nandi County Kenya National Union of Nurses (Knun) branch, while calling off the strike, advised its 500 members in the 194 health facilities to report back to work.
They claimed that the industrial action was illegally sanctioned by Mr Panyako, the secretary-general.
The union’s secretary in the region Amos Ng’etich said they decided to return to work after reading malice in Mr Panyako's move to “un-procedurally call for the strike without the ratification of the national governing council.”
“We are advising our members to resume duties latest Friday morning because we have read a sinister motive behind the call for this strike. The secretary general can’t superimpose his selfish decisions on us,” Mr Ng’etich told journalists at Kapsabet County Referral Hospital.
He also fired a warning on members who defy the return-to-work directive, saying they should be ready for disciplinary action from the county government since they will be penalised.
“The county public service board will be issuing letters of showing cause to any member who will defy this directive to get back to work since the strike is not legally protected,” said Mr Ng’etich.
He claimed the union officials were being blackmailed by Mr Panyako to engage in an illegality so he could gain political mileage at the expense of nurses’ welfare.
“Our constitution is very clear on the procedures that the union must engage before [sanctioning] a national strike. We cannot partake in a strike that is in itself illegal,” noted the secretary.
But as nurses in Nandi County called off their strike, several private hospitals in many parts are running out of essential drugs due to the rising number of patients flocking to the facilities to seek treatment.
Private hospitals in Nandi, Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Kakamega and Bungoma have been hit by congestion due to the ongoing national nurses’ strike.
“We have ordered ... more essential drugs to overcome the challenge of more patients,” said Gerhard Schumacher, medical director at Kapsowar Mission Hospital in Elgeyo-Marakwet.
It is a similar situation in Nandi, Uasin Gishu, Kakamega and Trans Nzoia counties as health services in public hospitals remain paralysed.