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Kenyan nurses end mass strike

By AFP

NAIROBI (AFP) - Tens of thousands of Kenyan nurses agreed Wednesday to end a two-week strike after talks with Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who revoked their mass dismissal during the standoff.

"The meeting agreed that the ongoing health workers strike should be called off immediately and all the officers return to work unconditionally," a statement from Odinga's office said.

The nurses stopped work on March 1 to protest the government's failure to raise wages as agreed last year, when they also demanded improved services in Kenya's mostly ill-equipped public hospitals.

The strike has crippled hospitals, with patients sometimes being sent home untreated, while others languishing in wards unattended.

"It was also agreed that all the issues raised by the health workers would be addressed exhaustively," added the statement.

Last week, government spokesman Alfred Mutua announced that the 25,000 striking nurses had been sacked.

"No officer will be victimised for participating in the strike and therefore disciplinary letters which had been issued to various health workers have been withdrawn," said the statement.

Secretary General of the Union of Civil Servants Tom Ondege said: "We have held talks and we have agreed health workers will resume duties, and all their grievances will be looked into by a special task force.

"None of them will be sacked. Letters which had been sent to some of them, we have been assured, will be withdrawn."

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