NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 13 – As President Uhuru Kenyatta made known on Wednesday that the, “cares,” for workers and would “press,” the private sector to award them a pay rise during the May 1 labour fete – much to the delight of the Central Organisation of Trade Unions – the Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) has made clear that it will not be succumbing to political pressure from a government seeking to win favour with the masses ahead of the August General Election.
FKE has in the lead up to past May Day celebrations, vehemently opposed arbitrary increases of the basic minimum wage citing macroeconomic considerations.
FKE CEO Jacqueline Mugo has instead proposed that he government focus on bringing down the cost of living.
“Both the industries and their workers are under pressure on the increasing cost of living and increasing the minimum wage is not a solution,” she said in a briefing to the press in Nakuru after attending the FKE Rift Valley branch Annual General Meeting.
She said every time the government increased the basic wage, the cost of doing business in the industries rose by an average of 30 per cent which forced employers to either lay off staff or pass the cost on to their customers — both of which, she said, were less than ideal outcomes.
“If the minimum wage is increased, the ripple effect in the industries still affect the workers negatively because a chunk of them lose their jobs and the cost of basic commodities goes up as the manufacturers cushion themselves against increased cost of labour,” she said.
Despite FKE’s insistence that they not be used as political pawns as the political pressure mounts ahead of the August polls, she said their members would allow their workers the time to participate in the party primaries and General Election as is their Constitutional right.