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Report: Half of workers in manufacturing earn less

By Rading Biko | Sep 23rd 2020 | 2 min read
By Rading Biko | September 23rd 2020

This is according to research done by The Open Institute - an African non-profit organisation operating in Kenya - many casual workers expressed their concerns over the inhumane conditions of their jobs.

It was found that 51 per cent of workers are paid between Sh500-600 a day, which when computed works out to Sh12,000 - less than Kenya’s minimum wage of Sh13,572.00. 42 per cent of the respondents said they work 8-9 hours a day, with two 10-15 minute breaks and get no compensation for the extra hours.

Given the manual nature of their jobs, 71 per cent of the respondents said they are not given safety equipment - including PPEs - and where it is provided, they are made to pay for it. Moreover, only 40 per cent of the casual workers polled had any form of basic insurance cover. This, coupled with the other issues highlighted, adds on to the undue pressure and discomfort that the workers have to live through.

95 per cent of respondents were male, which goes to show that women are largely excluded from opportunities in the factory floors in many companies. The few women respondents expressed concerns about sexism, sexual harassment, and the heavily manual nature of work that makes it difficult for them to work in the sector.

It was also found that there are many cases of people working in the same company for years as casuals, a contravention of the Kenya Employment Act (CAP 226) - which states that casual workers should be converted to term employees after having worked in that company for more than a month.

“We supported this work because manufacturing is core to the delivery of Kenya’s development goals and having factual information around workers’ rights is the foundation to that development,” said Al Kags, Open Institute’s Executive Director. “We are keen to work with young people who take the driver’s seat and show the way to new ways of doing things.”

Though the data was collected in Industrial Area’s Enterprise Road, The Open Institute plans to expand it to cover more areas and more workers.

Another survey released by the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) early this month shows that companies in the manufacturing sector are predominantly male-owned and staffed across all its fourteen sub-sectors, except for the chemical and allied sub-sector that has 50 per cent women.

The Women in Manufacturing Report indicated that three out of the 14 sub-sectors had a female workforce of 40 per cent - agriculture, paper and board, and services and consultancy.

In terms of leadership, female-led multinational corporations (MNCs) had 85 per cent of women in senior management, slightly higher than male-led MNCs, which stood at 83 per cent.

The outcomes of the research are expected to pivot KAM’s Women in Manufacturing Programme by informing stakeholders in mainstreaming gender equality and inclusion in the manufacturing sector. 

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