Kenya’s largest trade union federation hailed an executive order issued earlier this month by President Uhuru Kenyatta that increased the monthly minimum wage by 12 percent. The Central Organization of Trade Unions called the directive “a great win for Kenyans” during a period of economic hardship brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, high inflation and a rise in fuel prices.
Kenyatta made the announcement during a Labor Day celebration on May 1, saying that higher wages would cushion workers against the erosion of their purchasing power and enhance Kenya’s economic productivity. He further described the increase as “an appreciation to workers for their critical contribution to the economy during the pandemic,” calling Kenyan workers “the backbone of our economy and our way of life.”
Kenya’s minimum wage was last reviewed in 2018, and COTU had pushed for a 26 percent increase that was roundly opposed by business groups in the country. The 12 percent increase raises the minimum wage from 13,500 Kenyan shillings, or approximately $116, to 15,201.64, or approximately $130, effective from May 1.