President Uhuru Kenyatta has announced a minimum wage increase of 12 per cent from 1st May 2022 to cushion workers against further erosion of their purchasing power.
Noting that there has been no review of the minimum wages for over three years while the cost of living has increased with inflation ranging between 5 to 6 per cent annually, the President said the Government has found it necessary to increase the minimum wages.
“In that regard, and in full appreciation of the critical contribution of workers to the economy; following the recommendation of various stakeholders; as a caring Government, we find that there is a compelling case to review the minimum wages to cushion our workers against further erosion of their purchasing power while also guaranteeing the competitiveness of our economy,” the President said.
President Kenyatta spoke on Sunday at Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi when he led Kenyan workers in marking this year’s Labour Day.
The Head of State lauded the role and resilience of workers in bolstering the country’s efforts to bounce back and build stronger after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our workers are the backbone of our economy and our way of life. Throughout the Covid-19 disruptions that began in 2020, our workers have kept the Kenyan flame burning bright. We will remain forever grateful and indebted to them,” the President said.
While commending the country for remaining focused in the face of adversity such as the Covid-19 and the rising global cost of living, President Kenyatta castigated some political leaders for inciting Kenyans to blame the Government for the global challenges instead of offering solutions.
“Instead of coming out to offer solutions on challenges facing the country, you have made it your responsibility to spew insults that do not help Kenyans.
“Insults and empty promises will take you nowhere but hard work and the labour of your hands,” President Kenyatta told politicians.
On the rising global cost of living, the President assured Kenyans that the Government had taken sustainable measures to cushion the vulnerable, including the workers and farmers, on the cost of inputs.
Citing the fuel cost as an example, President Kenyatta said the Government had subsidised prices of petrol, diesel and kerosene, making them the lowest in the region.
He pointed out that had the Government not protected consumers against the global increase in fuel prices, petrol price would have been approximately KSh 173 per litre.
“But to cushion our people, the Government has had to pay KSh 29 per litre as a subsidy. We have similarly subsidised diesel and kerosene. Our diesel pump price is KSh 125.5 a litre; the lowest price of diesel in our region and beyond is secured by the government subsidy of KSh 40.2 per litre,” he said.
President Kenyatta warned that stern action would be taken against oil marketers who sell the subsidised fuel outside the country.
He also asked the private sector, as key partners of the state in the economic development journey, to make re-adjustments that secure the elusive balance between profitability and sustaining the wellness of their labour force.
The President also pointed out that the various economic stimulus packages rolled out by his administration over the last two years have helped Kenyan families to cope with the challenges arising from shrinking opportunities because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Unlike the private sector that declared redundancies that led to retrenchments, the public sector maintained its workforce at pre-COVID levels,” the President said.
He encouraged workers to embrace positive energy to continue powering the country’s development by building, believing and being champions of the Kenyan Dream.
President Kenyatta commended groups like the Jua Kali artisans on Ngong Road, Kamukunji and Kariobangi, who came together to form a company worth KSh 250 million.
He also cited the Government’s Kazi Mtaani initiative, which benefited over 500,000 young people, as an example of positive energy.
“From the Kazi Mtaani initiative, 1,266 youth groups were organically formed. Of these groups, 1,025 have benefited from commercial loans and our affirmative action funds,” the President said.
The Head of State also appreciated Kenyan workers in the diaspora for remitting approximately K Sh375 billion every year.
Responding to Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) Secretary General Francis Atwoli’s request, President Kenyatta directed Labour CS Simon Chelgui to ensure the person picked by workers to represent them at National Social Security Fund (NSSF) board is gazetted.
He also took the opportunity to congratulate former Togo Prime Minister Gilbert Houngbo for being elected as the first African Director-General of the International Labour Organization.
Speaking at the event, CS Chelgui thanked President Kenyatta for his leadership, ensuring that workers and employees were protected during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Your Excellency, the programmes that you laid down, including the reduction of Pay As You Earn (PAYE), the reduction of Value Added Tax (VAT) and payment of stipend to those who lost jobs, went a long way in protecting the Kenyan people and workers,” CS Chegui said.
He also pointed out that Kenyan workers have been at the forefront in supporting the implementation of the Government’s Big 4 Agenda.
On his part, Atwoli commended the President and his Government for supporting the Kenyan worker, especially by creating a conducive environment for the manufacturing sector to thrive despite challenges brought by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Federation of Kenya Employers Executive Director Jacqueline Mugo expressed gratitude to all the stakeholders in the labour movement for working together as partners to promote the interests of the Kenyan workers.