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Debate on nurses and midwives strike continues

By Nelson Kiva, Violet Nabatanzi, Juliet Waiswa

Added 6th December 2017 08:17 PM

The threat for a strike by nurses and midwives came days after doctors suspended their sit-down strike that had paralysed the public health facilities.

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Debates on President Yoweri Museveni’s directive to solve grievances of nurses and midwives continued today with some sections of the Uganda nurses and midwives union protesting colleagues who called off the strike.

The Uganda nurses and midwives union abandoned the plans for the industrial action over pay and scheme of service that was scheduled to start on Tuesday.

This however did not go down well with a cross-section of the fraternity members who have since claimed that the decision was taken without their consent, maintaining that they would continue with the strike.

The union general secretary, Paul Henry Bukenya, on Tuesday confirmed that the health workers had postponed the strike for a week following a meeting with the president and the cabinet on Monday, where they presented their grievances.

“The president invited some of us to attend a special cabinet on Monday, where we conveyed our grievances to him and the cabinet before we resolved to postpone the strike for a week awaiting the President’s directive to different government bodies to be implemented,’’ he said.

On Tuesday, Bukenya found a hard time when a group identified as nurses and midwives, stormed the meeting he convened at   Mulago hospital board room in attempted to explain the decision to call off the strike.

Majority of whom were women, the group talking on top of their voices, insisted that their leaders had been compromised to reach the decision before the grievances are worked on.

Speaking to New Vision at their offices located at Mulago on Wednesday, the association chairperson, Justus Cherop Kiplangat, said: “Even today, our general secretary, treasurer and one member of our union are meeting ministry of finance, health and the prime minister’s office in implementation of the president’s directive.”

“Going by the president’s directive, we hope by Saturday or Monday to receive the good news, a reason I want to assure my colleagues that we couldn’t push on with the strike at neglect of good response from government”, he said.

The interview was shortly after police had dispersed a group of about 30 purported midwives and nurses who stormed the association offices to denounce the strike call off.

Cherop’s attempts to explain to the group with some in the professional uniforms, fell on the deaf ears prompting police to intervene.

In their list of demands, the union wants a speedy implementation of nurses and midwives’ scheme of service, salary increment and allowances.

The president allegedly told the union leaders that he had directed the ministry of public services to produce the scheme of service without further delay.

On salary increment, the president allegedly told the union members to remain calm as the salary review and enhancement committee he appointed scrutinised the proposal.

If the proposals from the union are approved, the least paid nurse and midwife, would be paid sh.2.5m and currently the health workers in the category are paid sh.450, 000 per month.

Cherop said government had committed to also support them through an organised Sacco to better their well fare.

The threat for a strike by nurses and midwives came days after doctors suspended their sit-down strike that had paralysed the public health facilities. Therefore the threat was approached with much attention to avert scenarios witnessed during doctor’s strike.

Nurses and midwives as frontline health care givers, who play a key role in ensuring patients to get quality care, hand in the past complained about several issues affecting their work including terms and conditions of service, lack of recognition among others.

Meanwhile the public health facilities continued with their normal service delivery with the nurses and midwives on duty as usual.

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