60,000 flower farm workers in Kenya get 25 per cent salary increase

Over 60,000 flower farm workers across Kenya are set to benefit from a 25 per cent salary increase. This is after the Agricultural Employers’ Association (AEA) signed officially a pending Collective Bargaining Agreement on Thursday with the Central Organization of Trade Union (COTU).

Representing flower farm employers AEA Chief Executive Officer Wesley Siele said some 60,000 workers are targeted beneficiaries of the pay increase. Siele said the two year CBA which will be expiring in July 2017 will be backdated to July 2015 when it was agreed upon.

“I know it is a little late to formalize this agreement but we have been having extensive discussions that have given us a clear way forward,” he said. Apart from increasing pay, the CBA will also be looking into improving the workers working conditions.

COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli cited the CBA as a big win for majority of unskilled workers in the sector who are the forgotten lot.

Of the about 100,000 flower farm workers, some 54,000 are said to be employed on casual basis with the lowest getting a starting salary of between Sh7,000 and Sh10,000 with allowances. This means upon implementation of the CBA, the starting basic salary will be at least between Sh8,750 and Sh12,500.

“We have a strong labour force that only needs to be encouraged to be productive which is not necessarily through good remuneration. But it is sad that the government has neglected the sector that it appears to be falling,” said Atwoli.

He added: “It is not that investors do not want to pour money in the sector, but corruption, unfavourable legislation on tax and the high cost of electricity is keeping their billions away.”

Siele lamented that despite the sector being one of the leading employers, it is being taxed twice both by the government through horticultural authority and county governments.

“Even our branded vehicles transporting flowers to Nairobi for export have to pay an ‘advertising fee’ in every country they transverse. Is this not double taxation?” said Siele.

Atwoli said one way of relieving the sector of bad legislation is letting the Government take over issues lands and not the counties as indicated in the new constitution.

“But our freight prices are not competitive compared to other countries in the same business,” he said. Ethiopia is one of the countries in the region that has fair freight service packages.

Source: Standard Digital