By Emprahim Njenga
While it is good to raise minimum wage come labour day and given that this is an election year, focus should remain on bringing down the cost of living.
Raising minimum wage every year is counter-productive. Salaries and wages should be tied to productivity and not political declarations. For as long as cost of living remains high workers will always agitate for higher pay. It is a vicious cycle that must be broken.
Kenya’s minimum wage is one of the highest in Africa. This is compromising the country’s competitiveness. According to Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) minimum wage in Egypt is KShs 6,500 while in Ethiopia it is KShs 5,000 while in Kenya it is KShs 12,600. COTU wants it raised to KShs 15,000.
Employers will retrench workers if non-productivity based pay-rises continue. They will also increase the price of goods putting even more pressure on the cost of living. So far close to 5,000 workers in the tea sector have been laid off as company’s fail to keep up with rising minimum wages.