, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 1 – Workers in the country have a reason to smile, after President Uhuru Kenyatta increased their minimum wage by 12 percent in response to the increased cost of living in the country.
The president made the announcement on Friday when he led Kenyans to celebrate this year’s Labour Day at Uhuru Park, in Nairobi, where union officials urged him to consider the interest of workers.
“I know that we did not increase the minimum wage last year and that is why we are doing it this year by 12pc,” he said and pleaded with employers to implement it with immediate effect.
“Let us appreciate and reward our workers because they are the ones behind the profits each company make,” he said.
As the government moves to improve the welfare of the Kenyan worker, President Kenyatta said the clamor for increased pay should not only be pegged on the cost of living but also on the level of productivity of the workers.
He appealed to workers both in the public and private sectors to double their productivity to boost economic growth and justify future pay increments.
“It is important to understand that all our efforts are required to build and improve our country’s economy. The investor needs to understand that he cannot make profits without the worker. And that the worker cannot get salary without an employer,” said the President who did not refer from his written speech in the entire address.
“As a country we have come from far but we are not yet there…every person must get his right including the Government, and this can only happen with concerted effort”.
Workers who spoke to Capital FM News after the celebrations expressed mixed reactions over the increment announced by the president, with others saying it is too little.
“The increase will not help, its only 10,000…that is the minimum rate of pay which is still very minimal more so for employees staying in Nairobi,” Francis Omondi, one of the worker attending the ceremony said.
Peter Mwangi a resident of Nairobi added that, “the President should ensure public funds are not embezzled.”
There are those like Festus Mburu who felt the increment was justified based on the country’s economic status.
“We should not keep complaining and instead appreciate what has been offered to us,” he said.
Francis Atwoli, the Secretary General of the Central Organisation for Trade Unions (COTU) has been pushing for a 20 per cent increment for the workers.
Atwoli who spoke at the celebrations decried the current situation where he said employers have continued to exploit workers without proper remuneration, noting that some private sector players have also continued to ‘evade tax’ worsening the situation further.
“These are the loudest people who go to the President and ask him to check on salaries of our people yet they are the same ones stealing from the workers,” Atwoli said.