President sets minimum wage increase; says labour key component of development

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COTU secretary general Francis Atwoli, Labour CS Ukur Yattani and fomer Raila Odinga at Uhuru Park during Labour Day celebrations
COTU secretary general Francis Atwoli, Labour CS Ukur Yattani and fomer Raila Odinga at Uhuru Park during Labour Day celebrations

President Uhuru Kenyatta has declared an increase of 5% on minimum wage with immediate effect. The government has set its sight on achieving the Big Four Agenda, and during the Labour Day fete at Uhuru Park, Nairobi, Labour CS Ukur Yattani, who was representing the President, said the good work done by workers hasn’t gone unnoticed.

The Labour CS said labour is a key component to the realization of the Big Four Agenda and encouraged unions to act as social partners, reasoning together with the state to address issues that may arise. It was also noted that many strikes have been witnessed in the past year, and they’ve caused considerable suffering to many Kenyans, “As much as it (industrial action) is constitutional, it should be utilized well with the interests of fellow Kenyans at hand,” he said, “Structured dialogue can go a long way in the achievement of targeted objectives.” He said that as a result of the strikes in the country, there has been a loss of 100 million man hours which is a concern for any developing nation. Therefore, the government is looking at enhancing dispute settling mechanisms to deal with labour issues.

On his part, COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli said there must be good relations between workers, employers and the government to ensure strikes are minimized. He said workers’ concerns should be dealt with so that a harmonious environment exists with the government, instead of the state looking for ways to undermine other partners. “If the strikes are many then it’s up to the government to build more capacity to face the workers. They shouldn’t come up with colonial legislation instead,” said Atwoli.

He urged all workers to support the four pillars laid out by President Kenyatta-Affordable housing, universal healthcare, manufacturing and food security-saying they’ll go a long way to ensuring the nation realizes stability and development.