03-05-2022 by redazione
President Uhuru Kenyatta chose the May 1 holiday to unleash a decision that smacks of election propaganda but was expected by Kenyan workers for three years.
Kenyatta has deliberated the increase of 12% on the minimum monthly salaries of all employees, ignoring the protests of employers and obtaining applause from the categories of less paid workers.
Those benefiting most from the increase will be askari (guardians of homes and businesses), drivers, cleaners, houseboys, waiters and cashiers and others.
The mandatory increase over the minimum wage has been in effect since the beginning of the month, so it should already be on salary payments as of next May 31.
In fact, this decision had been in the air for some time, as inflation in the last three years has risen by 6% and is expected to rise further this year. The increase in prices of essential goods has further distressed the country's lower and middle classes, who have not felt protected, especially during the critical period of the pandemic. Prices of essential items, including soap, gas and cooking oil, as well as food items such as wheat flour and onions, have increased by up to 41% in the past year.
This has forced many households, especially in the low-income segment, to reduce their shopping basket in an environment where companies have frozen wages as they recover from Covid-19 economic woes and battle global supply chain disruptions made more painful by the war in Ukraine.
"In full appreciation of the fundamental contribution of workers to the economy and following the recommendation of various stakeholders," Kenyatta said during his May 1 speech, "we find it appropriate to review minimum wages in a way that cushions our workers against further erosion of their purchasing power, while also ensuring the competitiveness of our economy. There is no doubt that the cost of living around the world has skyrocketed because of Covid 19 and as a result ... the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and Russia. We know our people would like us to do more, we work for sustainability and right now what we can do is help them by raising wages for the most vulnerable."
The most significant increase in minimum wages had always occurred around the time of the elections, those past 2017, and was 18%.
In large cities, the average minimum wage for a general laborer, such as the categories described above, will now go up from Kes.13,572.90, to Kes.15,201.64.
The minimum wage for receptionists will also go up (from Kes. 20,904 to 23,413) as well as those of night security guards, heavy vehicle drivers and supermarket cashiers.
Clearly not in agreement is the Kenyan Federation of Employers (FKE), which while complying with the directives of the Head of State, denounces yet another obstacle to economic recovery after the pandemic,
This increase in minimum wages will inevitably limit the number of new hires," said FKE Director Jacqueline Mugo. "Stabilizing our economy means being able to create new jobs. Employment is a big challenge for this country and we need to constantly find a balance between raising wages and hiring more workers."
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