Kenyans get 18 percent minimum wage rise
While Uganda struggles to conclude the minimum wage debate, neighbors across the border yesterday walked home with an 18 percent increase in minimum wage.
For the last two years, President Uhuru Kenyatta had ignored calls by workers to increase the minimum wage; postponing the move to yesterday in a move observers believe is meant to bolster his re-election bid.
“We know that for two straight years we have not increased the minimum wage…after consultations with key stakeholders, I have directed that the minimum wage be increased by 18 percent,” said Mr Kenyatta, in a video posted on the Kenya Presidency twitter handle.
The Jubilee Presidential candidate for the August polls missed no opportunity to ask for re-election; sprinkling more goodies to workers he said he fought for in his ending five year term.
The minimum wage, initially at Kenya shillings 10,955, has been raised to shs12, 926 (about Uganda shs452, 221).
Earlier, the workers had demanded a 22 per cent raise in minimum wage, without which they threatened to punish Mr Kenyatta with an electoral defeat.
Mr Francis Atwoli, the secretary-general of the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu), told Daily Nation, a Nation Media Group owned newspaper that Mr Kenyatta should review the minimum wage for workers.
“Inflation has been rising throughout this year; we have asked for a 22 per cent increase. Period.” Mr Atwoli said.
Mr Kenyatta, in his Labour Day speech also increased the taxable income to Kenya shillings 13,400 (about Uganda shs471,625), declaring that no worker earning the same or below should suffer taxation.
“I am aware that the workers on the lower income bracket are struggling to afford basic necessities and it is not fair that they should be taxed heavily,” Mr Kenyatta said, adding that, “ all people earning that and below shall no longer be taxed.”
Uganda National Union of Trade Organizations Chairperson Usher Wilson Owere, who yesterday expected a major pronouncement on minimum wage, had a raw deal as President Museveni remained tight lipped on the matter.
His opposition to the minimum wage policy is public, brushing aside calls yesterday by several workers’ leaders in Pallisa for an increase in minimum wage.
Mr Museveni said at an occasion to celebrate Labour Day, “the conversation should be about attracting more investment to create more jobs.”