NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 14 – The Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) has taken issue with the government for the delayed gazettment of the minimum wages announced on May 1, saying it is raising conflicts between employers and employees.
Executive Director Jacqueline Mugo told journalists on Wednesday that the issue was putting employers at a difficult position because they cannot effect the new rates without the gazette notice.
She added that no justification had been given for the delay so far urging Labour Cabinet Secretary Kazungu Kambi to immediately gazette them.
“What we are sensing is a lot of questions coming from employers because these minimum wages are the entry point into employment. So workers know that there was an increase in May but they continue earning the old minimum wage,” she explained.
“That disaffection at the workplace affects productivity and the capacity of employees to focus on their work.”
Mugo at the same time expressed concern over the impact that the issue will have on companies’ bottom lines noting that employers who have not yet effected the increase will have to backdate it to May 1.
She said that employers had already advised the government against increasing the minimum wage bill noting that it would strain sectors that heavily rely on unskilled labour.
Mugo explained that the agricultural industry would be among those hit hard by the increase and especially after backdating the pay.
“It’s like the story in the Bible about the father who was praying for a sick child and the child died. But after that he got up, took a bath and went on with life. Once a decision is made then as employers we have to implement it,” she said.
A 14 percent increase on minimum wages was announced by President Uhuru Kenyatta on Labour Day.
Mugo also claimed that the delay in gazettment made it look like there was a ploy to tamper with the minimum wage and increase it.
“But if the government has had a change of mind on the minimum wages then it should be publicised,” she said.
FKE plans to write a memo to Kambi and his labour counterparts to urge them to gazette the new rates.