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The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating effect on local firms. Many are lost on how to stay afloat amid the decline in demand for their products and services. And majority of Kenyans can understand the various mechanisms their employers have used such as reduced wages and unpaid leave.

These rough but necessary measures also enable the companies to save jobs. The Ministry of Labour recently gazetted a Memorandum of Understanding that will make it easier for private sector firms to employ such measures as they battle effects of Covid-19. The MoU implores employers and employees to work together to sail through the storm.

Through dialogue, workers and companies can agree on suspending Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs), those active and the expected ones. But there is need to guard against companies that may want to use the MoU to retrench or slash salaries even when the firms are financially stable.

We have already witnessed massive job losses. But there could be companies looking to use such a tool for selfish gain. Abuse of the leeway in the MoU to suspend CBAs might be rampant as firms look to save every penny they can and disregard the plight of their employees. This is made easy considering that Cotu gave its approval. It would be expected that companies exercise responsibility while suspending the CBAs and reducing wages, but the Ministry of Labour perhaps needs to be vigilant.

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