Wednesday, December 26, 2012

MPs to discuss wage rise for flower farm workers

The Government has agreed to have the proposed minimum salary to be consolidated at Sh10,000 from Sh3,765. Photo/FILE

The Government has agreed to have the proposed minimum salary to be consolidated at Sh10,000 from Sh3,765. Photo/FILE 

By CAROLINE WAFULA cwafula@ke.nationmedia.com

A proposal to increase the minimum wage of workers on flower farms by over 100 per cent will be considered in Parliament on Thursday.

Naivasha MP Mr John Mututho proposes amendments to Section 47 of the Labour Institutions Act of 2007 to raise the minimum wage of certain categories of workers in the country’s agricultural and floricultural sector from the current Sh3,765 to a consolidated salary of Sh10,000, about 166 per cent increase.

The amendments aimed at controlling the wages of the flower farm and other workers in the agricultural sector have spurred protests from flower growers who have been lobbying to have the proposal defeated in Parliament.

The Kenya Flower Council (KFC) even sought the backing of the Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) and the Kenya Private Sector Alliance to lobby Parliament not to adopt the subsidiary legislation that would control minimum wages.

The amendments are contained in the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill, 2012 scheduled for debate in Parliament at Thursday's afternoon sitting.

Already the new Floriculture Council proposed in the Labour Institutions (Amendment) Bill, initiated by the MP, has been established and its membership gazette three weeks ago.

The Government has agreed to have the proposed minimum salary to be consolidated at Sh10,000 from Sh3,765 and it now remains to be seen whether Parliament will endorse the proposed wage structure or not.

Mr Mututho, speaking to Nation in a telephone interview said the push to increase the current minimum wages for certain categories of workers in the private sector is pinned on the high cost of living.

The minimum wage was last provided for through Legal Notices No 96 and No 98 of 2010.

Parliament will consider a new Sixth Schedule in the Act which seeks to provide for the minimum wages for certain categories of workers in the private sector.

The Minister retains the power to upwardly review the wages provided for in the Sixth Schedule.

The Floricultural Council will specifically deal with issues concerning workers on flower farms.

There are two other councils - the General Workers Council which advices the Government on various issues and the Agriculture Council, catering for the three categories of workers.

A part from the wage issue, the Council is expected to also handle issues to do with working conditions on flower farms.

Cases of workers being exposed to harsh working conditions handling chemicals and in cold rooms have been reported on various farms.

The council is expected to advise on issues of compensation and come up with regulations on flower farms.

Mr Mututho said the enactment of the Bill will lead to improved conditions of living of a majority of the Kenyan workers and also accelerate the implementation of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution which places great emphasis on attainment of socio economic rights for citizens.

The Bill, however, does not propose to increase the remuneration of those workers who draw their remuneration from the Consolidated Fund.

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