NHIF snip

A photo of the NHIF building in Nairobi. Most workers are opposing new NHIF rates that were announced in April this year (Photo: diasporadical/Google).

Egerton University staff want the government to refund all the money that was deducted from their salaries since April this year and directed to the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF).

Through their Kenya University Staff Union (KUSU) leaders the staff said unless that condition is met then they will not have any negotiations with the government on the implementation of the new NHIF deductions.

The staff said this on Friday as they officially launched a strike meant to push the government to have a second thought on the issue.

“We feel this is corruption. What have they done with the money they deducted from April,”

said Wayaya Ombunya the branch secretary at the Njoro based university.

“Nobody asked us how the money will be sent,”

added Ombunya who is also the National Organizing Secretary of the of the staff at the national level.

On Wednesday a number of workers unions under the umbrella of the Trade Unions Consortium of Kenya (TUC-Ke) announced the strike after talks involving government and the workers’ representatives failed to avert the strike.

According to the April directive workers are to pay rates ranging from sh150 to sh1,700 from a flat rate of sh320, which they actually want the government to revert to before negotiations can start. Specifically though workers are unhappy with the directive by the government to charge the rates depending on one’s gross salary, a move they say is against the principles of equity.

“We are asking them to deduct on a percentage based on the basic salary,”

said Kennedy Mangale who is the KUSU Egerton branch secretary.

The workers also want the government to contribute towards the fund as well as have those with superior health insurance schemes exempted from NHIF.

“If this is a digital government then we want them to act,”

said the branch Chairman Frederick Isaboke who asked for full participation on the final decision.

“The constitution says that citizens need to be fully involved in any decision that affects their welfare.”

Isaboke also urged for the reinstatement of Labor Cabinet Secretary Kazungu Kambi saying he is more accommodating during negotiations. Kambi has not been in office since March 29 this year after he stepped aside to pave way for investigations on allegations of being involved in corruption.

“We want Kazungu Kambi back,” Isaboke said.

Since the government increased the rates there have been questions on its ability to manage the kitty and whether citizens will get value for its money by having quality health services in hospitals.

It will be noted that access to quality universal health services was one of the election pledges of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto. Workers are partly asking whether the increase in the NHIF rates is an indirect plan by the Jubilee administration to fund this vision.