COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli has reiterated that the government should implement a general wage increase and that it won’t cost anything to deduct the Housing Levy as a result. Speaking at Uhuru Park during the Labour Day fete, Atwoli said the Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE), who came out to oppose the idea of any wage increase a day before Labour Day had other plans. On Tuesday FKE had among other reasons said that wage increase has an effect o cost of doing business and the competitiveness of enterprises.
The COTU boss had proposed a general wage increase earlier, saying the 1.5% Housing Levy deduction is good. “FKE, Last year we received a 5% wage increase, they lobbied and for 9 months it wasn’t announced, till January it been gazetted, what they wanted was to delay till today so they can tell the Minister don’t consider any increment, just gazette last year’s increment,” said Atwoli at Uhuru Park. He said they (COTU) got wind of the January gazettement and were open to negotiations surrounding the Housing Levy, “We said we want 15% general wage increase. If you get the 15%, if President Uhuru wants to deduct 1.5% its technically free,” he noted.
He recalled that in 1972, former President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta announced a 10% general wage increase for everybody to reduce unemployment and insisted that it’s the government’s job to defend workers not the Union’s responsibility, “Government must come out and protect workers and create jobs.”
Atwoli also said they fully support President Kenyatta’s war on corruption and questioned people who don’t do the same. “Who are those who are against the President in the war on graft?….I am not a Kikuyu and I’ve stood with President Kenyatta, all other Kenyans are standing with President Kenyatta,” he affirmed, saying that he can’t label all Kikuyu ‘foolish’ because of the close working relations he has enjoyed with them in the past and currently. This was in defence of a belittling remark he made towards the Kikuyu community during the COTU prayer day on Sunday which made leaders from the community. The COTU boss further urged politicians not to incite Kenyans against each other on tribal lines.