News / Africa

Kenya Employers Call Planned Union Strike Illegal

Kenyan protesters hold placards during a demonstration against food and fuel prices hikes in Nairobi, Kenya, April 19, 2011 (file photo).
Kenyan protesters hold placards during a demonstration against food and fuel prices hikes in Nairobi, Kenya, April 19, 2011 (file photo).
Michael Onyiego

Kenya's employers are blasting a planned strike by the country's unions over the minimum wage. With groups demanding a raise to help meet the rising cost of living, employers are calling the actions illegal.  

A standoff is developing between Kenya’s workers and Kenya’s employers over wages and the rising cost of living.

Kenya’s largest umbrella union, the Central Organization of Trade Unions, or COTU, is threatening a countrywide strike at the end of May if the government fails to raise the minimum wage by 60 percent.

At a Labor Day celebration on May 1, Labor Minister John Munyes announced an increase of 12.5 percent for the minimum wage.

However, COTU Secretary-General Francis Atwoli told the same crowd that nothing less than 60 percent would be acceptable, and promised action if the demand was not met.

Now Kenya’s employers are entering the fray. Speaking to Kenya’s NTV, the Federation of Kenya Employers called the planned strike illegal.  The group's executive director, Jacqueline Mugo, called the planned strike "unfortunate" and said the unions had failed to consult the relevant stakeholders.

But a spokesman for COTU, Adamas Baraza, says the unions have every right to demand higher wages.

"First I just want to refer them to a very simple document, our new constitution, which says every worker has got the right to go on strike," he said. "So which illegality are they talking about? We are guided by the new labor laws. It says very clearly that a strike can be convened by giving seven days notice. But instead of giving a seven days notice. COTU has given a 21 days notice."

COTU has also dismissed claims that it cannot speak on behalf of workers in Kenya. The umbrella organization consists of 31 trade unions and has over 1.5 million members.

Baraza says the strike would begin on May 23 if the government failed to meet the 60 percent increase.  He also said the strike would not consist of any demonstrations or public action, and reaffirmed that the organization was ready and willing to discuss the minimum wage with the Kenyan government.

The strike was called in response to rising fuel and food prices in Kenya over the past few months. Since the New Year, food prices have risen by an estimated 30 percent, and fuel prices are currently at an all-time high in the east African nation.

The May 1 announcement by Munyes brought the minimum wage in Kenya to about $90 per month, up from around $80.

You May Like

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs