Kween health workers strike over salary deductions

Wednesday January 16 2019

Striking Mbarara regional referral hospital

Striking Mbarara regional referral hospital workers. The health workers in Kween District, whose salaries for the month of December 2018, were deducted over absenteeism, have gone on a strike in protest. FILE PHOTO 

By MICHEAL WONIALA

Kween. The health workers in Kween District, whose salaries for the month of December 2018, were deducted over absenteeism, have gone on a strike in protest.

This comes after the district leaders in early December, last year resolved to deduct salaries of health workers, who absent themselves from duty as a measure to curb the vice.
With the resolution being effected last month, more than 100 health workers were only paid for the days they worked.

However, during a press conference held in Kapchwora Town Council on Monday the affected health workers said the decision should be revoked.
“It’s unfair for the district to deduct our salaries without caution and following rightful procedures,” Mr Edison Mashandich, a senior medical officer at Kaproron Health Centre III, said, adding that they will not attend to patients this week until their demand is met.

Mr Mashandich said the acting district health officer, Mr Godfrey Chemos, is being used by the district officials for selfish reasons.
“Our supervisor, who is supposed to defend us and appreciate how hard we work in this hard to reach district is instead conniving with district leaders to frustrate us further but we will not accept it,” he said.

Mr Peter Kiti, the chairperson of Kween District Health Workers Union, who is a clinical officer at Teremboi Health centre III, said instead of district deducting their salaries authorities should first improve their welfare to motivate them to work hard.
“We operating in deplorable conditions with no allowances but the district health officer does not appreciate that. He is only interested in protecting his job,” he said.

However, Mr Chemos, said the strike is illegal. “They should not expect to be paid when they don’t work,” he said.
Earlier, Mr Micheal Wanje, the chief administrative officer, told Daily Monitor that the health workers in the district were paid for only the days they worked and the same will apply to those who miss work this month.

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“We were tracked by the Office of the Prime Minster among the worst districts as far as absenteeism of health workers is concerned and we want to reverse that,” he said.

He said the most affected workers were those in-charge of health centres.
“The 90 per cent of the most absentees were the officers in charges but the overall absenteeism average stands at 50 percent in the district,” he said.
“We are registering some positive results but a few, who have continued to abscond, will face disciplinary action,” he added.

Service delivery affected
Mr Denis Ephraim Balwaniregha, the Resident District Commissioner, said the performance of the health workers has been below the average, something, he said had affected service delivery.

However, one of the affected doctors who preferred anonymity said it’s unfair for the district to deduct their salary, which is already little.

Mr George Kiprotich, the executive director of Kapchorwa Civil Society Organisations Alliance, welcomed the decision, saying it will help to enforce discipline among the health workers and improve service delivery.

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