Operations at the Makueni County Referral hospital were yesterday paralyzed after health workers downed their tools over July unpaid salaries. The workers carrying twigs and chanting slogans marched to the County headquarters offices in Wote town and confronted Governor Kivutha Kibwana over the monthly dues.
Led by the Civil Servants Union Secretary Makueni branch Justus Ndonye the workers demanded to know from Governor Kivutha why they had not been paid yet their counterparts in the neighboring Kitui and Machakos counties had received their July salaries.
“We have not paid house rent and neither do we have money to fend for our families. How does the county government expect us to work on empty stomachs,” lamented Ndonye.
Ndonye said most of the workers rely solely on salaries and accused the government of lying to them that the salaries would be paid on time.
“We have been patient for long. We were told that the salaries would be paid latest yesterday,” he said.
Despite pleas by the Governor that the Finance department was working on the salary issue the workers stood their ground and vowed not to go back to work.
“No money; no work,” they chanted.
The workers defiance however irked the Governor who told them to continue with the strike as his government works on the problem.
“As civil servants you have every right to picket and demonstrate. I was among the people who spearheaded the Constitution that gives you the right to hold demonstrations. You can continue with the strike while we pursue the matter,” said Kivutha.
“You have the right not to work but you must know that the services you offer are emergency services,” he continued.
The Governor absolved his government from any wrong doing and apportioned blame on the National Treasury which he said had not disbursed the county allocations hence the delay.
“We are trying as much as possible to get money from Central Bank through G-Pay and our expectations is that by the end of the day the salaries shall be paid,” said Kibwana.
The Finance Executive Mary Kimanzi who had flagged the Governor also had a hard time convincing the striking workers that she was working round the clock to have the money deposited in their respective accounts.
“We expect the Central Bank will activate the G-Pay as soon as possible,” said Ms. Kimanzi.
Meanwhile a spot check by Kenya Monitor revealed that the operations at the referral hospital remain paralyzed as the workers kept off the health facility while patients sat desperately at the waiting bay.
The strike of the health workers paints a gloomy picture on the already ailing health sector and patients who cannot afford to seek alternative health care in private hospitals can only hope that the problem will be solved in the shortest time possible.
The delay of the disbursement of the county allocations by the National Treasury should also be avoided at all costs to avoid similar incidents.