Kenyan health workers campaign for higher pay, better working conditions, 2012

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Timing
Time Period:  
1 March
2012
to
16 March
2012
Location and Goals
Country: 
Kenya
Location Description: 
All over the country of Kenya, medical workers in hospitals went on strike
Goals: 
"The health workers are concerned over delayed promotions, emergency allowances of about Sh30,000, on-call allowance, and payment of intern workers, among other grievances." -allAfrica.com
 

On 1 March 2012, 60,000 healthcare industry workers in Kenya began an indefinite strike in order to improve working conditions and salaries. Due to the massive commitment from healthcare workers, workers were prepared to suspend operations in hospitals throughout Kenya.

Workers had proposed demands to the government three weeks prior to the start of the strike, allowing the government to address those demands within the time period, yet, no demands were met in the allotted time. "The government failed to implement demands by health workers within the stipulated time and date of February 29, and in this view we inform all health workers countrywide, including Kenyatta National Hospital and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital that they start handing over all their stations and by midnight keep off their stations until the government is willing to listen and honour promises," said Union of Kenya Civil Service General Secretary Tom Odege.

While a few hospitals did not comply with the strike and continued to operate, nearly all public hospitals in the country suspended activity. Health workers marched throughout the country in protest.

In Kenya’s capital Nairobi, medical workers marched on the Afya House, the location of the Ministry of Medical Services, in protest. In other nonviolent actions, medical workers hosted a sit-in at the Afya House.

The issue of striking medical workers provided a hostile ground for accusations, as the public suffered the consequences of the strike. Many Kenyans were not able to receive the medical care they needed, as they couldn’t afford private care. While patients and government officials intent on ending the strike accused the workers of being selfish, Rashid Musangi, the chairman of the Coast chapter of Kenya Health Professionals Society, said the strike would benefit patients and the public as well. "What we are advocating includes improved working conditions and better facilities. These are the same things that help the public whenever they are rushed here," said Musangi.

The Kenyan government threatened the workers, saying they would fire all workers and begin to replace them with interns, students, and others who were qualified. Workers ignored these threats, and in the end, they were not fired.

After several days of meetings, the Ministry of Public Health and the protesters were able to strike a deal. The settlement rescinded the threat of firing workers, and allowed for a one-hundred percent increase in pay for healthcare workers. While the workers demanded a three-hundred percent increase, they were satisfied with the benefit they received, and returned to work on 16 March 2012.

Research Notes
Sources: 
04 March 2012. KENYA Citizen TV. 21 April 2013 <http://allafrica.com/view/resource/main/main/id/00030815.html>.

15 March 2012. 21 April 2013 <http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2012/03/2012316143320804455.html>.

Jamila. 15 March 2012. 21 April 2013 <http://www.eufrika.org/wordpress/2012/03/kenyan-public-health-care-workers-end-mass-strike/>.

Karongo, Catherine. 02 March 2012. 21 April 2013 <http://allafrica.com/stories/201203020985.html>.

Mugmabi, Jane. 03 March 2012. 21 April 2013 <http://allafrica.com/stories/201203040187.html>.

Rajab, Ramadhan. 1 March 2012. 21 April 2013 <http://allafrica.com/stories/201203011262.html>.

—. 02 March 2012. 21 April 2013 <http://allafrica.com/stories/201203021147.html>.

—. 03 March 2012. 21 April 2013 <http://allafrica.com/stories/201203040176.html>.

Reuters. 16 March 2012. 21 April 2013 <http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/16/world/africa/kenya-health-workers-end-strike.html?_r=0>.

Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy: 
John Pontillo, 21/04/2013