Sibling rivalry among nurses’ union officials to derail CBA negotiations

Nurses’ union officials are embroiled in a leadership tussle that could frustrate the ongoing negotiations for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement with their employer, the Council of Governors, and the ministry of Health.

  • KNUN chairman John Bii and  Secretary General Seth Panyako are locked in a power tussle in a bid to drive the interests of the union
  • Bii has filed an affidavit claiming that Panyako has embezzled millions of shillings from the union coffers adding that he stole a Toyota Prado belonging to the union
  • Panyako on his end claims that Bii has been using his position to solicit favours from the government and donors at the expense of furthering the unions’ interests
  • Their  differences comes to the fore at a time the union is negotiating a new CBA that will harmonise their salaries

The ongoing negotiations are focusing to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement that is expected to bring to and end their perennial industrial actions.

READ ALSO:Why nurses may strike again

In a sworn affidavit, KNUN chairperson John Bii has accused the union Secretary General Seth Panyako of embezzling millions of shillings and stealing a Toyota Prado belonging to the nurses.

Seth on his end has accused Bii of using his position as the chairman of the nurses’ union to solicit money and other accrued favours from the government at the expense of the unions’ interest.

"The vehicle was being used for private use, including conducting his political campaigns for the position of senator, Kakamega County for 2017,"

reads part of the affidavit filed at the Labour Court.

Bii further accuses Panyako of illegally paying Lucy Mwangi, his alleged second wife, up to Sh150,000 from the union’s coffers.

READ ALSO:Your CBA is illegal, Senator Machage tell striking doctors

Bii’s lawyer Mageto Bitange says the Prado, registration number KCC 757R, was assigned to Panyako, but it disappeared in June last year and could not be traced for many months.

And on Friday last week the labour court temporarily stripped Panyako of his position as the Secretary General of the union and stopped him from transacting any business on behalf of the union.

My Panyako has since obtained orders blocking his suspension and vowed to seek legal address against his rival who he claim to taint his name.

The infighting threatens to tear the union apart, with members already asking for a special general meeting amid fears that the government may take advantage of the rift to table unfavourable demands to the union.

READ ALSO:Nurses’ strike called off

The differences between the two leaders also played out during last year’s negotiations in December when the nurses called off their strike after county governments signed the recognition agreement and agreed to pay them nursing allowances of up to Sh 20,000.

Earlier on, the union had been split after a section of its officials agreed to call off the strike without an amicable agreement and to the disregard of Mr Panyako who is mandated by Knun constitution to call of any boycotts.

The current CBA negotiations are addressing pertinent issues that nurses have been raising for years including promotions, human resources concerns such as medical insurance and harmonisation of salaries.

According to KNUN Deputy Secretary General Morris Opetu, nurses have had many employers, from the defunct local authorities and now county and those seconded from the national governments, creating a huge disparity in salaries and allowances despite them being in the same job group.

"These multiple sources of employment have seen nurses in lower job groups earning more than their counterparts in higher grades and vice versa,"

said Opetu.

The talks are expected to end before the end of March when the CBA is expected to be registered at the Industrial court.

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