Human Flower Project
Making $39 a Month?
There oughta be law against paying cut-flower workers (or anybody) just $39 a month. Naivasha’s MP has proposed to up their minimum wage. Leaders of the Kenyan industry are pushing back, hard.
A worker in Kenya’s $21 million cut flower industry
Photo: Business Daily
Do the cut-flower workers of Kenya deserve to make $100 A MONTH?
John Mututho, Member of Parliament from Naivasha, where the nation’s biggest flower farms are clustered, thinks so. And that would be a big pay raise! Mututho has introduced an amendment to the Labour Institutions Act that would increase flower workers’ monthly wages from the current 3,765 Kenya Shillings ($39.71) to Sh 10,050 (the equivalent of $106.01).
The Kenya Flower Council is lobbying Parliament, meanwhile, to prevent legislative authority over minimum wages, in other words, to keep wages down.
Flower workers, who have struggled for years in their efforts to unionize, are up against a largely unregulated industry in Kenya – an industry that by the way brought in $21 million from May 2010 to May 2011 – up from $17.9 million the previous May-to-May.
The Kenyan companies seem to be faring well despite the global economic mess, which is great. How about spreading the profits around to the people who make them possible?
But the flower industry was warning back in the late spring that it planned to lay off workers, “due to a combination of factors that range from the weak shilling and high cost of fuel to power rationing and shortage of production materials that have all seen production costs rise significantly in the recent past.” Those kinds of murmurs, of course, are designed to squelch efforts by workers to organize or demand better conditions and higher pay.
According to George Omondi’s report for Business Daily, Kenya law now allows for the “Labour minister to provide wage guidelines to different sectors of the economy, usually done once on Labour Day.”
No word yet as to whether MP Mututho’s measure has passed or failed.
Happy (?) Labor Day.