By Luke Anami
On the same day that the Government increased the minimum wage by just over Sh900, the workersâ umbrella body called a strike for May 14 to protest new health insurance rates.
The 13.1 per cent increase raised the minimum wage to Sh8,295.
Central Organisation of Trade Unions ( Cotu) Secretary General, Mr Francis Atwoli, served Labour and Human Resource minister John Munyes with the two-week strike notice during Labour Day celebrations at Uhuru Park Nairobi.
Atwoliâs action, captured on live on most television stations, caught Munyes by surprise and he was later seen consulting with the chief guest, Vice President and Home Affairs minister Kalonzo Musyoka. The VP later acknowledged that Atwoliâs move was legal and joked that Munyes would no longer deny having been issued with the strike notice as demanded by law. Cotu Secretary General Francis Atwoli during Labour Day celebrations at Uhuru Park, Nairobi, on Tuesday [Photo: Collins Kweyu/Standard]
Cotu Secretary General Francis Atwoli during Labour Day celebrations at Uhuru Park, Nairobi, on Tuesday [Photo: Collins Kweyu/Standard]
Atwoli said the strike would be to force the National Hospital Insurance Fund to withdraw the new and compulsory rates for deduction by all employers even as the Government and Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) pleaded for dialogue.
NHIF Chief Executive Richard Kerich was present at the celebrations and sat through the verbal bashing over the new rates.
Atwoli accused Kerich and unnamed businessmen and politicians of forcing the new rates on employees saying the cash collected could be misused, especially now that elections are around the corner.
"The new NHIF rates needed prior consultations with the social partners, mainly employers and workers and to date, we have not agreed on the rates and in any case the NHIFâs capacity is wanting and cannot manage the new rates while the situation is worsened by the absence of properly equipped facilities," Atwoli said.
But Kerich later defended the new rates and accused Atwoli of misleading Kenyans, saying the least paid workers will part with Sh150 and not Sh2,000 as Atwoli had claimed.