In Summary
  • The heath sector rightly occupies that apex position above others for obvious reasons, the major most being the fact that it deals directly with life, right from conception.

  • It is in both literal and figurative sense a life and death sector whose importance in human survival cannot be overemphasised.

  • For this, it follows that anyone working in the health sector should know from the onset that they are in in a reverent position, a cut above the rest of us.

It seems the season of strikes is here with us again! And it is not the usual school boarding house-burning type. This has been taken care of, albeit temporarily, by the August holidays.

It is the industrial action by employed adults that is setting in and it is worrying.

The cost involved every time workers withdraw their labour is in most cases very injurious to the employer. In essence, that is what the withdrawal, commonly referred to as a strike, is aimed at achieving so that the employer can feel the pinch and give in to the demands of the labourer. An industrial strike is simply a blackmail workers employ to force owners of capital into a deal favourable to the former. It is an economic sabotage against an employer the workers consider too mean to improve terms of service.

SELF-EMANCIPATION

Now Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) secretary general Wilson Sossion has rang the bell for a strike by his members and every tutor’s belly seems to be boiling for action. University lecturers are also itching for their turn.

But it is the medics strike that I fear most. On Monday and Tuesday this week, I saw signs at Kenyatta National Hospital and I shuddered.

While heroism abounds in championing for fellow workers rights and participating in the self-emancipation from exploitative profiteers, the same cannot accrue if in the process some innocent participants lose. It is more absurd if life is lost as one seeks a better life.

ESSENTIAL SERVICES

And that could be the reasoning behind guarding against strikes for those working in what is classified as essential services sector.

In most jurisdictions, essential services include sectors such as water supply, telephone, firefighting, prison, the police, air traffic control and probably child care services.

For those working in these sectors, their freedom to participate in labour withdrawal is expected to be a bit restrained due to the obviously dire consequences such a move can have on the communities in which they work. Alternative forms of revolt are always advised in case of disputes involving the workers and their employers. In fact, some countries actually make strikes illegal for workers in such sectors.

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