President Uhuru Kenyatta has put a smile on the faces of Kenyans by announcing a minimum wage increase of 18%.
He made the declaration during the Labour Day celebrations at Uhuru Park, Nairobi. In addition to the increase, he also said that up to KSh 100,000 of bonuses and overtime shall not be taxed in order to cushion Kenyans from the high cost of living. The minimum taxable salary is now placed at KSh 13,475.
The 18% minimum wage increase, however, came as the Central Organisation of Trade Unions requested for a 22% increase in basic pay.
“We know that for two straight years, we have not increased the minimum wage. So, after consultation with key stakeholders, I have directed that the minimum wage be increased by 18%,” Uhuru said.
This is the third time he has made a minimum wage increase in his tenure. In 2013, he raised the minimum wage by 14%, less than three weeks after assuming office. The second time was in 2015 when he increased it by 12%.
In his speech during the celebrations, the president said the main aim of building a prosperous economy where every Kenyan would earn a decent living was on course. He mentioned current efforts in road construction, lowering barriers to trade, quality education as some of the strategies.
The President also touched on the treatment of workers by employers before adding that the State would soon be embarking on inspection of safety at the workplace to ensure compliance.
With the August General elections by the corner, Uhuru did not fail to make a plea to Kenyans to give him a second term in office “to keep up the good work”.
“We want to continue doing these things. Give us the opportunity to continue with the good work.”
On job creation, President Kenyatta said wage employment grew by 11% in the past year. He added that more jobs were on the way. He announced the creation of the Kenya Labour Market Information System, which would be a directory for finding and advertising work.
On the issue of foreign jobs, the President said he extended a freeze on recruitment of Kenyan workers by Middle Eastern countries until they figure out a way to protect the people.
“We have streamlined administration and management of employment agencies to minimize on exploitation, it is upon you now to work with accredited agencies,” said Uhuru.