Workers in Kenya could be victims of unsubstantial send-off packages by employers who are exploiting the country’s equivocal labor laws, says a representative of the worker’s union.
Peter Ngugi, a panelist at an event organized by Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) and FES Kenya discussing the impact of digitization on the manufacturing sector and a worker’s union representative said that the trend is on the rise and many workers lose jobs because of business automation and digitization.
“Workers are wrongfully paid under redundancy terms. Digitization involves movement or transfer of jobs; however, most employees are given peanuts as release offers as if their work was abolished,” Mr. Ngugi said.
Section 2 of the 2007 Employment Act defines redundancy as the loss of employment, occupation, job or career by involuntary means through no fault of the employee. It encompasses termination of employment as per the employer’s directive, where the services of an employee are unessential.
Manufacturers in the event cited increased competition has seen many firms adopt automation in to keep up.
The Kenya Association of Manufacturers head of membership, Tobias Alando, said digitization will guarantees the industry’s contribution to the economy from the current 10 percent to 15 percent as projected in the Big 4 goals.
In 2017, the World Economic Forum reported that 52 percent of work activities in Kenya can be automated. At the same time, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics showed that about 2.5 million Kenyans were engaged in employment in 2017. What this means is that the number of people who are at risk of losing their jobs to automation is 1.3 million.
Although the manufacturing industry supports technology, equality and propriety are mandatory in the jobs created. Philip Didi, a representative of the Ministry of Labour said the state is focused on upskilling workers to deal with the challenges of the modern work environment.
“Automation requires re-skilling of the workers and training institutions are lagging behind the growth of industries. It shouldn’t be considered a conflict between humans and machines for we will lose. Rather, your mode of production should place you in a position where you can compete with the rest of the world,” he said
IEA’s Kwame Owino noted that best way workers can be safe from unfairness in the digital world is by improving their productivity.