- The labour movement in Kenya is dying.
- Many unions lack an independent voice and have become a stepping stone for leaders seeking elective political positions, and favours with the government.
May 1 is celebrated globally to acknowledge the historic struggles and the subsequent gains in social justice and basic rights in workplaces.
This day comes at a gloomy period for workers in Kenya today.
More workers have lost their jobs in the last two years than in any comparable period in the last 20 years in Kenya.
World Bank data showed Kenya’s unemployment rate last year rose to the highest levels in East Africa, riding on massive layoffs since the Covid-19 pandemic struck.
Kenya's unemployment rate, at 5.7 per cent, is double the East African average of 2.7 per cent.
Yet Kenya’s economy has continued to grow at an average of five per cent. The problem is that this growth comes from capital-intensive infrastructure projects whose gains have not trickled down to the average citizen.
Kenyans working in low-paying jobs in the private sector know no peace. They work much longer than specified in the Employment Act, with little pay and in poor conditions.
Labour unions should ensure employers treat their workers fairly and adhere to the law.
But the labour movement in Kenya is dying. Many unions lack an independent voice and have become a stepping stone for leaders seeking elective political positions and favours with the government.
This is not something to celebrate.
Quote of the Day: “No oppression is so heavy or lasting as that which is inflicted by the perversion and exorbitance of legal authority.”
The English essayist and politician was born on May 1, 1672