By David Mwenda
The Nurses’ strike is raging on and there is continued disquiet from the government and the nurses’ union.
The media has been very slow to address this issue. The media is using its old play book and pulling from the same bag of old tricks. There are many things that make me say this and I will tell you a few of those.
First, the media normally uses emotions to make sure the nurses surrender and return to work after they see the problems that are going on in the health sector. This is why you will see reports of how many people are dying and beds and people who are unattended in order to make sure that the nurses feel like they are betraying the people by not offering their services to the people.
This picture cuts is also supposed to make the government see how bad the mess is and get them to resolve the issues with the doctors fast enough. The picture however paints a picture of a heartless and unkind health practitioners, which in turn reflects horribly on the nurses as most Kenyans will want them to go back to work without any pay after they see this mess in the health sector.
The media has also failed to understand the role of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission. The commission has posed a lot of problems in a lot of industrial high court cases.
The SRC has played a role of confusing everyone with their role and the media has also fallen into the trap. The SRC plays a consultative role in the government and they make sure they have given the right information in how to handle this mess.
Up to now they have played a role of making sure the government and the nurses and other institutions which have sought industrial action. They have failed to give an environment between the government and its workers to solve their problems. The media needs to make sure they have understood the role of the SRC. Is it supposed to negotiate, is it to play an advisory role with the government or is it supposed to make sure that workers rights are upheld?
Even though the media has had its shortcomings, they have however not left it as an agenda in their discussions.
Their panels have had a variety of people — from the nurses’ representatives to the government to politicians. However they have failed to get at the Council of Governors and why they claim the strike is illegal. They need to make sure the governors are accountable for why they think that yet the nurses gave a warning way ahead of time.