Kenyatta National Hospital employees will go on strike on Monday next week if their salaries and allowances are not reviewed.
The employer will part with Sh2.4 billion annually if the management accedes to their demands.
The hundreds of doctors, nurses and non-medical staff held peaceful protests within KNH premises on Friday, during which their unions gave the strike notice.
Should their demands be met, the monthly salaries of some of them will double.
The protesters are members of the Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union, Kenya National Union of Nurses and Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotels, Education Institutions, Hospitals and Allied Workers.
“These monies are available. They have been partially implemented because the former CEOs benefited,” KMPDU acting secretary general Chibanzi Mwachonda said.
The workers and the management have had a long running dispute since 2012 when the State Corporation Advisory Committee recategorised all parastatals including referral hospitals from level 3B to PC 7A.
The unions claim the recategorisation should have come with a salary increment of all 7,000 workers, a discordant view from that of the KNH management and the Salaries and Remuneration Commission.
“When the hospital was recategorised a new salary scale was also approved but only the salary of the Chief Executive Officer was implemented. We are not children of a lesser God and what we want is the SRC to give a concurrence so that the money can be paid,” Kudheiha shop steward Kenneth Thuranira said.
In 2019, the hospital’s board of management board sought funds from the Treasury to implement the new pay for the health workers.
The Treasury set aside Sh2.4 billion. It handed over Sh601 million to KNH early this year.
“We are sending a clear message to the SRC, their job was to breach the gap between the high-income earners, with that of low-income earners but not to increase the salaries of the top managers and forget about those who work under them. We will not allow this and if the job is to hot for them then they should quit,” said National Nurses of Kenya Association Chairperson Alfred Obengo.
If the salary review is implemented across board, many employees would have their pay doubled, ballooning KNH’s wage bill.
For instance, those in job group K1 earning about Sh191,000 would see their salaries double to Sh318,566.
Workers in job group K3 earning about Sh141,000 would now earn about Sh211,793.
Lowly paid non-medical workers in job group K13, who earn Sh23,810 would now take home about Sh27,509.
But in a letter dated September 2, 2020, received on September 16 by KNH, the SRC informed CEO Evanson Kamuri that the re-categorization was only meant to move the hospital to a higher category but did not involve any salary review.
But the workers say they will hear none of this and gave their seven-day strike notice last week.
“In view of the above, we now demand that the hospital implement salary for all employees working in your facility as approved by the state advisory committee through a letter dated September 13, 2012 within seven days failure to which all employees represented by the signed unions will commence a strike on September 28 2020,” the three unions said in joint letter addressed to the KNH CEO and the Labour CS.