, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 1 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Saturday announced a 10 per cent pay increment on the basic minimum wage for all workers in the country.
Making the announcement during the Labour Day celebrations at Uhuru Park Nairobi, the PM said the modest increment was meant to cushion the workers against the high prices of commodities that have eroded their purchasing power.
"I have directed the Ministry of Labour to implement a pay rise to the minimum pay of 10 percent," he said to a cheering crowd.
Should this directive be implemented, it will be the first time in five years the government has raised the minimum wage.
In 2008 the Labour Day celebrations ended in an anticlimax after the Head of State failed to announce the increase for the second year citing difficult economic times.
Members of the public walked out on the President as he addressed the crowd pre-maturely ending the celebrations.
Later in the day Labour Minister John Munyes announced the formation of a taskforce to look into the matter. The Head of State has skipped the last two celebrations.
The PM at the celebrations lauded Kenyan workers under the umbrella of the Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) for supporting the draft constitution. During the celebrations he launched the yes campaign for the draft law’s referendum expected later in the year.
Mr Odinga said that the country was faced with the challenge of creating jobs for the 750,000 young Kenyans who leave school every year, noting it is a challenge that the government must take on and win.
He pointed out that some of the measurers that the government was instituting to meet this challenge was the protection of the country’s industries against unfair competition to protect jobs.
He said: "Among other measures we have directed the Kenya Armed forces, Police and Prisons to procure uniforms and other clothing from Kenyan manufacturers. This should save many jobs for Kenyan workers and save our struggling textile industry."
Mr Odinga pointed out that the government had increased the number of Judges in the Industrial court to handle the increased number of disputes in the courts. In addition, he added, plans are underway to establish regional industrial courts in the country to increase access to judicial arbitration of trade disputes.