Kenyan workers were left happy an exited during the May 1, Labour Day celebrations.
The excitement was not because of the increase of the minimum wage alone, but also by the light moments which engulfed the powerful announcement.
Before making the announcement, President Uhuru Kenyatta had cracked the ribs of workers, enough.
As a caring government, we find that there is a compelling case to review the minimum wages so as to cushion our workers against further erosion of their purchasing powerUhuru Kenyatta
One notable moment is when the President turned back to ask his aide de camp if his salary had been reduced.
The question was a follow up to the President’s assurance that the government indeed did enough to cushion Kenyans during the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to the President, despite the negative impacts of the pandemic, the government did not touch the salaries of its employees, as may have been done elsewhere.
And to put an icing on the cake, the President increased the minimum wage by 12 per cent.
This means the lowest paid worker will have a salary increase by 12 per cent starting with the May, 2021 pay.
This comes even as employers continue to feel the impacts of the pandemic, worsened by the war in Ukraine.
Before the President took to the stage, Central Organization of Trade Union (Cotu) Secretary General Francis Atwoli had put a passionate appeal to the President to consider raising the minimum wage.
Atwoli argued that the high cost of living has hit families, and there was need to cushion workers through salary increment.
And in response, the President did not disappoint.
“As a caring government, we find that there is a compelling case to review the minimum wages so as to cushion our workers against further erosion of their purchasing power
“while also guaranteeing the competitiveness of our economy and in that context, I today declare an increase on the minimum wage by 12 percentage point,” said Uhuru.
The President noted that even with inflation above eight per cent, Kenyan workers have made efforts to help the economy.
The President said Cotu has continued to work with the government, a situation which has seen his government make huge steps in development.