Why the 18 per cent minimum wage for workers is a tall order to implement

It would be a hard for a country like Kenya to achieve the said increase yet they haven't first sort out corruption not to mention a huge public wage bill.


As usual workers plight were highlighted over and over again and the government of President Uhuru Kenyatta was challenged to come to the rescue of the underpaid, under appreciated and overworked Kenyan worker.

The ritual was the same as previous celebration but one thing will remained etched on the mind of Kenyan workers, the 18 per cent minimum wage for workers promised by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Kenyan workers led by their flamboyant COTU secretary general, Francis Atwoli were ecstatic with the news and celebrated to no end.

I would however like to bust their bubble and premature celebration that in my opinion the minimum wage bill is a tall order to implement for a couple of reasons.

Above all it would be a hard for a country like Kenya to achieve the said increase yet they haven't rs t first sort out resource leaking sources like corruption not to mention a huge public wage bill.

 A political dangling carrot gimmick

The Jubilee administration deliberately picked 2017 to make the announcement, 2017 being a political year; politics will of course take precedence over everything.

Everything will grind to a halt until January 2018 where a bit of semblance will return for either the incumbent government or a new one to sit down and then deliberate on how to implement the minimum wage bill.

Add that to the many campaign pledges the new or old government made during the electioneering period and you arrive at only one conclusion. The 18 percent minimum wage was simply a political statement not worth the paper it was written on.

Economy has taken a slump

Numbers don’t lie, no matter how hard you may want to cook or twist them; they will stubbornly stare at you back.

It is a fact that the Kenyan economy has taken a slump, 2016 was especially a tough year and the recent Kenya bureau of statistics economic report stated as much.

Just a mere 85,600 formal jobs were created in 2016 while 90 per cent  (832,900) new jobs created were from the informal sector commonly referred to as Jua Kali.

10 hotels down at the coast have already shut down within a matter of days due to low business, Banks too have freeze hiring of staff and you get why we are in a quagmire.

Financial institutions like World Bank just the other day downgraded Kenya's anticipated growth from 6.0 per cent to 5.5 percent.

Being an electioneering year, the Kenyan economy as usual will take another slump, tourist will keep away, farmers will hold back from planting, businesses will go slow on hiring  and expanding until the coast is clear, that is the sad fact  of the Kenyan economy every general election year.

The drought currently ravaging parts of the country worsened by the latest Armyworm infestation in the Kenya’s food producing counties and you don’t need a calculator to know we are in a bad shape.

So my question is, where will the money come from to pay the Kenyan workers who I must add rightfully deserve the raise, where?

High cost of Living and Job losses

This goes hand in hand with the second argument, as a result of hard times if it comes to push and shove, business owners will have only two options which are equally painful.

The first option will be to lay off workers and only remain with who are necessary this means if an employer has 5 watchmen and by law he is required to pay all of them a minimum wage of Sh14,420.78 and if they can’t afford, they will simply lay one or two and then pay the rest their minimum salary.

The second option is equally grime; pass the extra cost to the consumer that is you and me. If you live in a flat and the law states that a caretaker takes a minimum wage of 18 per cent what do you think will happen?

The landlord will increase the house rent in order to pay the caretaker his due , forcing you to dig deeper in your pocket and in these tough times, only translates to more pain.

I could be wrong of course and the Kenya economy proof resilient and even grow, we just have to wait and see.


Eyewitness? Submit your stories now via social or:

Email: news@pulselive.co.ke