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


"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."

Time period

1 March, 2012 to 16 March, 2012



Location Description

All over the country of Kenya, medical workers in hospitals went on strike
Jump to case narrative

Methods in 1st segment

  • Kenyan health workers demanded higher pay, better resources with which to treat patients, and would not return to work until these demands were met
  • 60,000 health workers declared they were going on strike on March 1

Methods in 2nd segment

  • Workers led street marches around the Afya House, where the ministry of health is located.
  • Health workers in Nairobi led a sit-in at the Afya House in protest

Methods in 3rd segment

  • Processions were led from Uhuru Park to Kenyatta National Hospital

Methods in 4th segment

Methods in 5th segment

Methods in 6th segment

Additional methods (Timing Unknown)

Segment Length

2 days

Notes on Methods

The health care worker's representatives and the government met several times over the last three segments of time of the campaign to end the strike.


Union of Kenya Civil Servants secretary general Tom Odege, Kenya Health Professional Society general secretary Moses Lorre


Not known

External allies

Not known

Involvement of social elites

Not known


Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Medical Services permanent secretary Mary Ngare

Nonviolent responses of opponent

Not known

Campaigner violence

Not known

Repressive Violence

Not known


Economic Justice



Group characterization

Healthcare workers from all over Kenya
students studying to be doctors
interns working at the hospital

Groups in 1st Segment

Union of Kenya Civil Servants
Kenya Health Professional Society
Kenya Union of Domestic Hotels
Educational Institutions
Hospitals and Allied Workers

Segment Length

2 days

Success in achieving specific demands/goals

2 out of 6 points


1 out of 1 points


3 out of 3 points

Total points

6 out of 10 points

Database Narrative

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. 


04 March 2012. KENYA Citizen TV. 21 April 2013 <>.

15 March 2012. 21 April 2013 <>.

Jamila. 15 March 2012. 21 April 2013 <>.

Karongo, Catherine. 02 March 2012. 21 April 2013 <>.

Mugmabi, Jane. 03 March 2012. 21 April 2013 <>.

Rajab, Ramadhan. 1 March 2012. 21 April 2013 <>.
—. 02 March 2012. 21 April 2013 <>.
—. 03 March 2012. 21 April 2013 <>.

Reuters. 16 March 2012. 21 April 2013 <>.

Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy

John Pontillo, 21/04/2013