Uhuru woos workers with 18pc minimum wage rise

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WORKERS FOLLOW THE PROCEEDINGS OF A COTU MEETING. THE MINIMUM WAGE HAS BEEN RAISED BY 18 PER CENT. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG VIA BUSINESS DAILY

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday moved to woo Kenya’s lowest-paid workers with an 18 per cent wage increment that raises their purchasing power for the first time after two years of stagnation and decline.

Mr Kenyatta said the wage increase, made only three months to the August 8 elections, was in recognition of the fact that no such adjustments had been made in the past two years.

“For two straight years we have not increased minimum wages and after consultations with key stakeholders, I have directed that the minimum wage be increased by 18 per cent. In addition, we have increased the non-taxable bonuses and overtime to Sh100,000,” Mr Kenyatta said during the Labour Day celebrations at Uhuru Park in Nairobi.

This is the highest increase in the minimum wage since Mr Kenyatta took office four years ago. Observers see its timing as meant to woo the low-income voters paid ahead of the polls.

The latest wage increment means a general labourer in Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa, whose minimum is currently set at Sh10,955, will get an additional Sh1,971 for a total of Sh12,926. The entire amount is tax-exempt because an amendment of the income bands that moved the lowest taxable pay from Sh11,135 per month to Sh13,486.

The lowest-paid general labourers in other parts of the country will, however, earn Sh6,895 after the latest adjustments.

The increment has, however, moved more workers, including a Nairobi night watchman, who will now take home Sh14,420, a matatu turn boy (Sh13,960), heavy commercial vehicle drivers and tailors (Sh21,942) as well as artisans  (Sh17,447), to the minimum taxable income threshold.