Kenya: Staff Toil for Less Pay, Says New Report

26 September 2020

More than five in 10 Kenyans working in the manufacturing sector earn less than the recommended minimum wage of Sh13,572 per month, a new report shows, even as families' grapple with Covid-19 economic hardships.

The findings by Open Society show that 51 percent of staff are paid between Sh500-600 per day, representing Sh12,000 monthly.

"Forty two percent of the respondents said they work hard eight to nine hours a day, with two 10-15 minute breaks and get no compensation for the extra hours," the report said.

Only 29 said they got personal protection equipments (PPE) with 71 not getting them. "and where it is provided, they are made to pay for it."

"Only 40 percent of the casual workers we spoke to had any form of basic insurance cover. This, coupled with the other issues highlighted, adds to the undue pressure and discomfort that the workers have to live through," the report said.

Endanger their livelihoods

The data was collected at Industrial Area's Enterprise Road. Whereas 95 percent of male complained of discrimination, only five percent of women did the same.

"The few women respondents expressed concerns about sexism, sexual harassment and the heavy manual nature of work that makes it difficult for them to work in the sector," it adds.

The report reveals that many companies contravene the Kenya Employment Act (CAP 226), which compel employees to hire casuals permanently if they have worked for a firm for an extended period of time.

"All of the workers we interviewed are aware of the Central Organisation for Trade Unions, but they had no idea what it does for them - even though some of them claimed that a deduction made on their pay goes to the union.

"In fact, most of the workers deemed themselves not to be unionised because unions could endanger their livelihood," it adds.

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