“The focus should be the middle class, which is critical in setting salary scales. At present, Kenya does not have a recognisable middle class, which in established systems is used as the benchmark for negotiation salaries.
It is against this backdrop (turning the ministry into complaints kiosk) that industrial unrest is handled haphazardly,” says Chune.
He says if the Government had followed the guidelines agreed with Cotu on minimum wage, which is calculated at Sh27,000, it would have failed to create more jobs. The lowest paid teacher earns Sh11,000 per month, while the lowest paid civil servant earns Sh7,000.
The reasoning is that public servants and teachers have to moonlight to make ends meet. Moonlighting, says Sossion, affects productivity negatively as workers have to channel their energies to side-jobs to seal their budget deficits.
“In Kenya, you must moonlight to survive because there is no control on basic needs. People do not have enough money to spend on services.”
In the past year or so, the cost of living has hit through the roof. The price of staple food went up threefold, taking a cue from increases in fuel prices. The effect of the cost of fuel that spread to the transport and energy sectors, which in turn touched off inflationary gallop, has not been addressed adequately despite the easing of prices on the international market.
In the interim period, salaries remained stagnant. The silence of the Government over high food, fuel, and transport costs remains largely unchallenged as trade unions focus more on salaries as scant attention is paid to rising costs of services.
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