Kenya: Govt Announces 5% Increase in Minimum Wage

Jua Kali artisans at work in Gikomba Market, Nairobi (file photo).

Nairobi — The government has announced a five per cent increment in the minimum wage to cushion workers against inflation.

The increment was announced by Cabinet Secretary in charge of Labour and Social Protection, Ukur Yattani, who read President Uhuru Kenyatta's speech at an event to mark this year's Labour Day at Uhuru Park on Tuesday.

"In recognition of the good work done by our workers and cognizant of the 4.8 per cent rate of inflation this year, I hereby declare a corresponding 5 per cent increase of minimum wage," Yattani announced on Kenyatta's behalf.

Yattani, however, noted significant losses in manpower hours numbering to 100 million owing to numerous work boycotts last year.

He urged stakeholders in to adopt a more consultative approach to avoid similar occurrences going forward.

"As a result of various strikes that took place during the past one year; the country recorded a loss of 100 million man-hours which is a matter of grave concern for a developing nation like ours," Yattani revealed.

"To ward off such unfortunate situation in the future, the time has come to commit to structured dialogue to overcome the challenges that we all face," he urged.

Yattani said President Kenyatta's government was committed to attaining sustainable economic growth that would guarantee job security.

"I urge all tripartite partners in labour administration to take the lead in achieving a structured dialogue. By so doing we shall be acting in the context of this year's labour the: Let's Reason Together for Sustainable Economic Growth and Job Security," he urged.

About a week ago, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) pointed to a 7.6 per cent increase in new jobs under the 2018 Economic Survey Report with most of the new jobs being in the informal sector.

According to the survey, some 897,000 new jobs were created in 2017 compared to 832,900 new jobs created in 2016.

According to the survey, the informal sector accounted for the lion's share of the new jobs at 747,000, a marginal decline from 747,300 new informal sector jobs posted in 2016.

The report pointed out an increase in the average minimum wage in the informal sector at Sh8,595 in 2017 up from Sh7,284 in 2016.

Tuesday's announcement of an increased minimum wage came at a time Orange Democratic Movement party leader Raila Odinga proclaimed an end of a boycott against products from firms perceived to have been backing the State at the height of an opposition anti-government campaign.

Odinga who was among leaders who attended the Labour Day celebrations at Uhuru Park said the campaign unveiled under the National Resistance Movement had ended following a peace deal he inked with President Kenyatta on March 9.

He said supporters of opposition-allied parties were free to engage in trade with, or buy from, the companies that had been blacklisted at the time.

"Today we decree an end to the economic boycott to Safaricom, Bidco, Brookside and Haco Industries," the ODM chief said.

During the Labour Day commemoration event, Nairobi City County Government disclosed that it was working on reducing its wage bill through a voluntary retirement plan being rolled out in consolation with workers unions.

According to Governor Mike Sonko, the move was in realization of the colossal amount of money being spent on recurrent expenditure, something he said hampered development.

"A large number of workers means that almost all the Sh12 billion we collect from local revenues goes to salaries leaving nothing for development," he said.

"Most of our staff are 50 years old and will be retiring within the next 10 years," he added.

Governor Sonko however assured that none the county workers will be forced to retire saying those who wish to continue working will be allowed to do so.

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