NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 9 – The Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) and Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) have launched an online platform where workers can report employers who are not complying with labour laws on minimum wages.
FKE Chief Executive Officer Jacqueline Mugo said the new initiative is aimed at fighting for workers’ rights by creating a negotiating platform between the employers and workers outside court.
“Right now our Industrial Courts are flooded with many cases and before your case is addressed, it will take a long time,” Mugo said, “If we are able to bring the employer and workers together, get a solution faster, it will be much better.”
The online platform will be hosted and run by a Netherlands based organisation, WageIndicator Foundation. It has an office in Tanzania.
The Foundation is involved in research on labour markets for workers and employers globally. It collects, compares and shares labour information through online and offline surveys.
“The minimum wage complaint form on the WageIndicator national website has been fully endorsed by the Industrial Court of Kenya,” Mugo affirmed.
Workers will report their complaints by filling specified details on the form, and then FKE and COTU will take up the matter and approach the employer.
“Some of the employers are simply ignorant of the labour laws, some are going through financial difficulties with their enterprises and many other challenges. So when we get to bring the two parties together we will get to know about all these, rather than go court route,” she said.
During last year’s Labour Day celebrations, President Uhuru Kenyatta increased the minimum wage by 14 percent to Sh13,674 up from Sh11, 995. The hike was geared towards addressing the needs of the lowest paid workers and cost of living.
However COTU deputy Secretary General George Mucai says most employers have remained adamant in implementing the laws with many workers remaining quiet for fear of losing their jobs in case they speak out.
“We have employers who simply know the minimum wage laws which came into effect in May 2013, but have decided to ignore. What we will do is talk to both parties, but if the employer refuses, the industrial court becomes the next option,” Mucai said during the launch of the initiative.
They however maintain that this will be a long term process that will also see workers air other challenges apart from wages, but encourage dialogue.