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Atwoli rejects employers’ claim on high cost of minimum wage

Cotu Secretary General Francis Atwoli

The Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) has refuted claims that its clamour for an increase in minimum wage is pushing potential employers to neighbouring countries.

Cotu Secretary General Francis Atwoli on Saturday took issue with a statement by the Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) that the demand for higher wages is making the cost of doing business unbearable.

“It is misleading and makes no single economic sense for the FKE to claim that such increases have pushed up the cost of doing business in the country by 30 per cent, when the very (same) companies have been talking the same language over the years yet they are stuck here in Kenya. What all this means is that they are lying to Kenyans,” he said.

“If at all doing business in Kenya is expensive, why not proceed as of yesterday to Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Ethiopia and anywhere else?” posed Mr Atwoli.

Last week, FKE Executive Director Jacqueline Mugo said the cost of doing business in Kenya has gone up by 30 per cent, forcing many firms to move to Ethiopia, Egypt, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi and Rwanda where the wages are more sustainable.

“The Government needs to reduce further the prices of essential commodities such as milk, sugar and flour to ease pressure on the pockets of employees who are demanding for wage increase,” said Ms Mugo.

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The FKE boss said that while the minimum wage in Kenya is about Sh12,600, it is Sh6,500 in Egypt and Sh5,000 in Ethiopia, adding that pay increases have a ripple effect on other statutory deductions and indirect benefits.

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