Labour Day: Ruto proposes 6 per cent rise in Kenya's minimum wage

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The president ordered Labour Cabinet Secretary Florence Bore to spearhead the process and report back to him in due time.

President William Ruto recommended that Kenya's minimum wage increase by at least six per cent on Tuesday, in his address at Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi as the 59th Labour Day was marked.

The president ordered Labour Cabinet Secretary Florence Bore to spearhead the process.

"I urge relevant authorities, particularly the Ministry of Labour, to convene a meeting with the appropriate committee to discuss and implement a minimum wage increase of at least six per cent," he said, adding the team will report back to him regarding an implementation plan.

"You will tell me how the calculation will be done and how we shall move forward."

The minimum wage is the lowest amount of money that an employer must pay workers in a certain period.

Kenya's minimum wage was last altered after Labour Day in 2022, when then-President Uhuru Kenyatta announced a 12 per cent increase, which saw the figure rise by Sh1,628.64 to Sh15,200.64. Kenyatta explained that this would help workers cope with a surge in consumer prices partly driven by the Russia-Ukraine war.

President William Ruto gives his speech during the national Labour Day event at the Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi on May 1, 2024. (Photo: PCS)

Labour councils

To ensure industrial peace and manage labour disputes, President Ruto also instructed the Labour ministry to activate multiple wage councils outlined in the 2007 Labour Relations Act.

These include councils for seafarers and protective, general, and agricultural wages.

"They will negotiate minimum wages in different sectors, enhancing conciliation, mediation, and industrial peace," the president said.

He stressed that his administration is committed to enforcing labour laws and engaging in social dialogues with unions and employers to see rights upheld.

"Social dialogues aim to enhance mutual benefit and shared interests, recognising our collective goal of advancing Kenya's welfare," Ruto explained, noting that every Kenyan worker has the right to fair pay and a safe workplace.

" The 2024 Social Protection Bill, approved by the Cabinet in January, underscores our dedication to addressing gaps in social protection, including fragmented legislation, coordination issues, and funding shortages," he added.

The President added that, like every other right, labour rights should align with public interest and the economy's sustainable financial capacity.

Doctors' strike

Regarding the doctors' strike, which began on March 15, Ruto urged a return to work,  arguing that the government has addressed all but two grievances.

"I urge our daughters and sons who are doctors ... as social partners, we must ensure essential services continue uninterrupted," he said.

Nearly 4,000 doctors and clinicians have been on strike in a demand for the implementation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) signed in 2017, following a 100-day strike.

The agreement promised higher salaries, better working conditions, and the recruitment of more staff, which the current government claims it cannot fulfil due to financial constraints.

Other key issues are inadequate health insurance, delayed postings for medical interns, proposed severe pay cuts for interns, and staffing shortages.

Negotiations between the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) and government officials have repeatedly failed.

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