Labour Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani wants trade unions to cancel strike notices and instead begin dialogue to address pay rows.
Mr Yattani, who officially took over from Ms Phyllis Kandie on Monday, said the strikes should be suspended “to give dialogue a chance”.
“As partners, there is value in talking. Let us see what we can provide. We don’t what a situation like last year when workers in almost every sector went on strike. The loss on the economy is immense,” Mr Yattani said at the ministry headquarters in Nairobi.
Kenya Universities Staff Union on Saturday joined the University Academic Staff Union in issuing a seven-day strike notice.
The two unions accuse the government of not providing a counter proposal on the 2017-21 collective bargaining agreements.
Last year, lecturers went on strike three times demanding conclusion of the 2013-17 CBA.
The minister said the matter of pay increment was serious and must be scrutinised.
“Having salary as motivation is good but the issue must be supported by a solid economy,” the former Marsabit Governor said, adding that his ministry would prioritise the plan to improve social security.
“About 46 per cent of Kenyans live below the poverty line while 19 per cent are in abject poverty. We must work towards bridging the poverty gap. The ministry will strike a balance between being a catalyst in economic transformation and having a productive and motivated workforce,” he said.