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COTU accuses employers' body of denying them annual increment

By Rawlings Otieno | May 2nd 2016 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

Cotu Secretary General Francis Atwoli fired shots at FKE Executive Director Jackline Mugo for advising the Government against the increment; against the wishes of the workers. (Photo: Moses Omusula/Standard)

Workers' representatives have accused the private sector and employers of lobbying Government to deny them a wage increment.

The Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) claimed that the Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) and the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa) influenced the Government's decision not to increase the minimum wage.

Cotu Secretary General Francis Atwoli instead fired shots at FKE Executive Director Jackline Mugo for advising the Government against the increment; against the wishes of the workers.

Mr Atwoli insisted that the explanation by FKE that there should be measured productivity in order to get the pay rise was ill-advised.

He said the Government was yet to establish a productivity centre to capture data on trends of cost of living against the prices of commodities.

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"We cannot peg productivity on wages and salaries of our workers. The Government should not be told about productivity yet it has not even established a productivity centre," said Atwoli.

Addressing workers Sunday to mark the International Labour Day celebrations at Uhuru Park in Nairobi, Atwoli said the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) should be scrapped since it had failed to advise the Government accordingly.

Cotu had presented a proposal to have a 40 per cent minimum increase on a wage that is currently at about Sh11,000 for the lowest paid worker.

Last year, the Government awarded the workers an 11 per cent minimum wage increase despite protests from the workers' body.

Atwoli said SRC had become a thorn in the flesh of many poor workers who work under deplorable conditions at the expense of wealthy investors.

According to statistics released recently by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), the country loses close to Sh608 billion annually to corruption.

Atwoli said corruption had penetrated every corner of the society.

"In Kenya, if you want to do business then you have to be corrupt. As a country, we lose around Sh608 billion to corruption annually. This is a monster that the Government must deal with decisively," he said.

The Cotu boss asked the Government to stop registering employment agencies that recruit Kenyans to work in the Middle East only to be brought back in caskets.

He said such unscrupulous agencies were denying the Government much-needed revenue since they do not remit Pay As You Earn and requisite taxes.

The Government, however, insisted that it had put in place measures to ensure that there are decent jobs and employment even to those seeking jobs abroad.

President Uhuru Kenyatta said that his administration had pursued labour policies including the labour market system that would enhance employment opportunities both locally and abroad.

"Kenya is not a nation will beg for handouts. We remain committed to expanding and protecting the workforce of Kenyan workers," said President Uhuru Kenyatta in a speech read by Labour CS Phyllis Kandie.

The outspoken Cotu boss also added his voice to the raging debate on the disbandment of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

He said the electoral body had lost its integrity and confidence and it was only fair it left office to avoid violence.

Atwoli asked Cabinet secretaries to advise the President on the IEBC stalemate before its too late.

"The Cabinet secretaries should talk to the President to find a way of advising the commissioners to leave office quietly and avoid bloodshed. This is unsolicited advice," said Atwoli.

Central Organisation of Trade Unions Labour Day Francis Atwoli
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