Uhuru upsets employers with 12% salary rise

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Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta

KENYAN President Uhuru Kenyatta has ordered a 12% rise on minimum monthly wages despite protests from employers, offering a relief to workers who had gone for three years without a salary review.

The order, which largely benefits low-cadre workers such as cashiers, drivers, guards, cleaners, salespersons and property caretakers, was effective Sunday, meaning it will be reflected in salaries at the end of the month.

Government had not reviewed the minimum wage for years despite a rising cost of living.

Inflation, for example, averaged 5,53% between 2019 and 2021, eroding the purchasing power of many workers.

“In full appreciation of the critical contribution of workers to the economy [and] following the recommendation of various stakeholder we find that there is a compelling case to review the minimum wages so as to cushion our workers against further erosion of their purchasing power, while also guaranteeing the competitiveness of our economy,” Kenyatta said.

The minimum basic pay was last reviewed upwards in May 2018 at the rate of 5%.

Sunday’s raise was the highest since the 18% increase that Kenyatta offered ahead of the 2017 presidential poll that he won, giving him the final five-year mandate which ends in August.

The average minimum wage for a general labourer like a cleaner, messenger, house help and gardener in Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu which has since 2018 been stagnant at
Sh13 572,90 will rise to Sh15 201,64.

The review will see the minimum pay for cashiers in major cities rise to
Sh34 302,74 from Sh30 627,45, receptionists (Sh23 413,49 from
Sh20 904,90), night security guard
(Sh16 958,98 from Sh15 141,95) and salesman (Sh28 487,42 from
Sh25 435,20).

Drivers of heavy commercial vehicles will, on the other hand, be paid
Sh34 302,74 from Sh30 627,45, while those on cars and light vehicles will be on Sh20 517,84 pay from Sh18 319,50.

The 12% increment is nearly half of 23,4% that the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) — the umbrella workers’ union — had asked for.

Cotu secretary-general Francis Atwoli said the umbrella union had initially proposed a 40% rise before negotiations with the Labour ministry and employers’ lobby, the Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE).

The talks, however, ended in a stalemate with FKE insisting economic fundamentals did not support a raise which usually forms the basis for the push to raise earnings by other cadres of workers through collective bargaining agreements.— Business Daily