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Decent Work Initiative

Factory workers’ data on their plight in industrial area, Nairobi

#DecentWorkInitiative

Decent work is employment that respects the fundamental rights of the human person as well as the rights of workers in terms of conditions of work, safety and remuneration.

Respondents

936

100%

Male

95 %

Female

5%

Given safety equipment

71%

43.2 last year

Provided with Insurance Cover

40%

19.8 last year

Average Leave days

12

0.8% last year

Our Observations

  • 1
    Martin's Wairegi tweet

    Martin posted a thread on Twitter, in which he detailed how he got a job through an agency to be a Machine Operator in a company that produces bottle caps for a beverage company. In the tweet thread, he highlighted the plight of factory workers through his first-hand experience

    Date: 1st Sept 2020

  • 2
    Open Institute

    We got fascinated by this account and we wondered how prevalent this situation is. We had a conversation with Wairegi and together, we agreed to start a “side nyake”, a short term ‘side project’ in which we work with Wairegi and 20 other volunteers, to interview as many workers as we could find in industrial area

    Date: 4th Sept 2020

  • 3
    Hit the ground

    Key focus areas:

    1. Employee welfare
    2. Pay and general contractual terms
    3. Job Security

    Date: 7th Sept 2020

Daily engagement targets (300 workers)

Day 1
255
Day 2
278
Day 3
403

Type of Contract

Casual
46.74%
Permanent
31.87%
Temporary
21.39%

Hours Worked

Our Observations

  • 1
    Payment is less than the minimum wage

    Majority of the workers we spoke to were employed as casuals in factories in industrial area and most are paid between KES. 500-600. We found that their pay computes to considerably less than the minimum wage prescribed by the government of KES. 13, 572.00 (USD 130) per month. What was worse is that we found that there are many cases of people working in the same company as casual employees for years in contravention of the Kenya Employment Act (CAP 226). Based on the fact that they are casuals, they have no protections and are at risk of being fired on a whim.

  • 2
    8-9 hours with two 10-15 minute breaks

    Most of the workers that we spoke to worked for 8-9 hours with two 10-15 minute breaks. Given that these jobs are heavily manual and that they involve standing, this create undue pressure on the workers.

  • 3
    The power dynamics between the employees and the companies

    A big driver of the fear that people have is that there is no job security in their workplaces - even among the contracted staff who told our team that they have seen others being fired on a whim. “What can you do, if you are fired? You can’t fight these companies.” The power dynamics between the employees and the companies they work for were fraught with stories of general disdain for their rights.

Median pay of Casual workers

Monthly
KES 16,950
Weekly
KES 4,200
Daily
KES 550

Casual Contract Payments

Daily
36%
Monthly
35.5%
Weekly
27.9%

Below minimum wage

Above miminum pay
Below miminum pay

Our Observations

  • 4
    Minimun protective gear

    We learnt that most of the workers are not provided adequate protective gear. Where it is provided most of them said that they were made to pay for it, in which case some chose to work without the gear.

  • 5
    Central Organisation for Trade Unions

    All of the workers are aware of the Central Organisation for Trade Unions (COTU) but they had no idea what it does for them - even though some of them claimed that a deduction made on their pay goes to the Union.

  • 6
    Inequality

    Women are largely excluded from opportunities in the factory floors in many companies. They told our teams about sexism, sexual harassment and the heavily manual nature of work that makes it difficult for them to work in the sector.

Industries

Job title