COTU-K officials distribute food and PPEs in Kajiado.

On the 17th of August, COTU-K officials in association with officials from Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) distributed food and personal protective equipment(s) to flower workers in Isinya, Kajiado County. 

Apart from engaging the workers on their rights, especially now during Covid-19, our officials also emphasized on the importance of staying safe during this period.

workers were encouraged to continue sanitizing, wearing masks, and observing social distancing.

President Keita was a champion for workers’ rights

Even as Mali is experiencing political upheavals and currently in murky waters, I would like, on behalf of all African workers, to wish President Ibrahim Abubakar Keita well and safety. President Keita has been a pro-worker president who, for long, has put the interests of workers above everything else.

In my service to Africa as the President of Organization of African Trade Unions Unity (OATUU) we had a cordial working relationship with President Keita: OATUU brings together 54 African countries and has its headquarters based in Accra, Ghana.

We were privileged to be hosted by President Keita in March 2017 when I was re-elected as the president for this organization.  He remained true to his commitment of ensuring decent work and protecting worker’s rights in his service to Mali.   

I would also like to urge other Heads of State to follow in his example of being supportive of workers’ rights and decent work.


Dr. Francis Atwoli (DZA), EBS, MBS.

COTU-K, Secretary General.


PPE Distribution

The Central Organization of Trade Unions in Kenya COTU (K) in Partnership with  Solidarity Center under the Program COTU CARES  donated Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to informal workers at COTU-(K) headquarters.

COTU (K)  Executive Board Members and  affiliates unions General Secretaries  KUDHEIHA, AUKMW, KUCFAW and KLDTDU were present led by Bro.  Albert Njeru, Bro Boniface Kavuvi and Sis. Rose Omamo.  Country Program Officer for East and Horn of Africa Sis. Marggie Peters-Mukhika represented solidarity Center.

The Informal Workers associations were represented as by officials from  Nairobi Informal Sector Confederation (NISCOF), Muthurwa cleaners association,  Grogon Ngara Food Vendors Association, Muthurwa Food Court Vendors Association,  Migingo Mechanics Self Help Group and Ambira Jua Kali Association. 

There was an emphasis on importance of observing Occupational Health and safety measures to reduce new COVID_19 infections at workplaces. Personal Protective Equipments provided include KN95 face masks 4,000, Hand washing liquid soap 620 litres, Disposable surgical hand gloves 2,000, Industrial hand gloves 100,  Hand sanitizers 175,000 ML, Soap Containers 100 and Thermoguns 9. 

Safe work Places 



the International Labour Organization workers Bureau ILO -Actrav today hosted a webinar on Tackling the Covid -19 pandemic, Climate Disasters and Locust Plague In East Africa where COTU(K) was represented by Bro Benson Okwaro who indicated that the storm is not over and COTU (K) and affiliate unions along with social partners working in solidarity to intervene and protect workers

Decent Work in Covid- 19 Period

The central Organization of Trade Unions in Kenya COTU (K) estimates that more than  300, 000 formal jobs have so far been lost with more lined up for the chopping board due to economic and social crisis brought about by Covid-19.

COTU (K) has run initiatives such as COTU CARES to mitigate the effects of Covid-19 on workers.

Further, Dr Francis Atwoli the Secretary General of COTU (K) commends employers who have retained their employees in the wake of the corona virus pandemic which remains a global threat.

“I want to thank the employers who have kept workers in full employment despite the pandemic and those who have entered into separate agreements with respective unions to ensure no worker loses employment,” Dr Atwoli said

COTU (K) and Social partners Ministry of Labour and Social Protection and Federation of Kenya Employers, FKE signed a memorandum of Understanding that will see firms and companies retain employees during this trying period.

COTU (K) is devoted to promoting decent work and social justice by pursuing human and labour rights of Kenyan Workers.

In this Covid-19 period COTU (K) is working with social partners, the members and enterprises to enhance recovery, prosperity and progress in the post Covid -19 period.



Social Protection TOR

Terms of Reference Extension of Social Protection Coverage in Kenya

The concept and practice of social protection as a tool and instrument for poverty reduction, economic growth and development remain an important policy concern in Kenya. The Kenya government has increasingly embraced social protection as a strategy for addressing poverty and reducing vulnerability amongst the population. This is reflected in the Medium Term Plan III (2018-2022)1, which seeks to implement measures towards achieving comprehensive social protection. The main objective of social protection is to help cushion the poor and vulnerable members of the society from the hard socio-economic risks and shocks. It is also meant to prevent them from falling deeper into poverty while at the same time boosting their resilience to such shocks and risks through provision of income support or regular social transfers. Social protection is also economically advantageous as recipients spend incomes in the domestic local economy thereby increasing aggregate demand.


Terms of Reference
Extension of Social Protection Coverage in Kenya
1. Background and context
The concept and practice of social protection as a tool and instrument for poverty reduction, economic growth and development remain an important policy concern in Kenya. The Kenya government has increasingly embraced social protection as a strategy for addressing poverty and reducing vulnerability amongst the population. This is reflected in the Medium Term Plan III (2018-2022)1, which seeks to implement measures towards achieving comprehensive social protection. The main objective of social protection is to help cushion the poor and vulnerable members of the society from the hard socio-economic risks and shocks. It is also meant to prevent them from falling deeper into poverty while at the same time boosting their resilience to such shocks and risks through provision of income support or regular social transfers. Social protection is also economically advantageous as recipients spend incomes in the domestic local economy thereby increasing aggregate demand.
In Kenya, social protection is undertaken through four pillars: social assistance2, social insurance3, social care services4 and labour market programmes5. Social assistance is mainly implemented through the Social Protection Fund (SPF), which facilitates cash transfers to Orphans and Vulnerable Children (CT-OVC), Older Persons (CT-OP) aged 70 years and above, Persons with Severe Disability (CT-PWSD) and Hunger Safety Net Programme (CT-HSNP). The CT-HSNP covers the poor and vulnerable in arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs)6. Social insurance is implemented through the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), other public and private-based occupational pension schemes, health insurance through the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF), and individual and occupational oriented medical insurance schemes. Social care services exist but they are not based on a definite policy framework while labour market programmes are mainly implemented as part of employment creation strategies.
The CT-OVC, CT-OP and CT-PWSD is KSh. 2,000 per month per beneficiary household payable bi-monthly, yielding a cash transfer of KSh. 6,000 per year. About 353,000, 833,900 and 1,290
1Republic of Kenya (2018). Third Medium Term Plan (2018-2022): Transforming Lives-Advancing socio-economic development through the “Big Four”, Nairobi: The National Treasury and Planning
2non-contributory transfers in cash, vouchers or in-kind to individuals or households in need; public works programmes; fee waivers (for basic health and education services); and subsidies
3contributory schemes providing compensatory support in the event of contingencies such as illness, injury, disability, death of a spouse, parent, maternity/paternity, unemployment, old age, and shocks affecting livestock or crops
4for those facing social risks such as violence, abuse, exploitation, discrimination and social exclusion
5active (promoting labour market participation) or passive (ensuring minimum employment standards)
6Other social assistance schemes include Equalization Fund, National Government Affirmative Action Fund, Constituency Development Fund, Ward Development Fund and Biashara Kenya Fund.
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households were enrolled in CT-OVC, CT-OP and CT-PWSD in 2018/2019, respectively. The cash transfer amounts granted under the schemes is below the 2015/2016 overall poverty line of KSh. 3,252 per month per adult equivalent in rural and per-urban areas, and KSh. 5,995 in core urban areas7. The infrastructure stimulus package announced by the government as part of the COVID-19 response will be useful in engaging some 270,000 youth. However, the set daily wage of KSh. 455 is 30.3% below the 2019 statutory minimum wage rate for a general labourer in the cities and 24.2% below the mandated wage rates for similar category of workers in the former municipalities and town councils of Mavoko, Ruiru and Limuru. The set wage rate is 24% above the statutory daily minimum wage rates for all other areas. Thus, though a good form of social assistance, it violates one of the fundamental principles and rights at work. Furthermore, the scheme is weak on sustainability. Overall, Kenya’s social assistance scheme is low both in coverage and benefits.
In respect to social insurance, membership of NSSF and NHIF was 4.2 and 8.5 million in 2019, respectively compared to total employment of 18.1 million in 20198. The NSSF and NHIF, therefore, covered only 23.1% and 46.7% of all workers in 2019. Furthermore, while both NSSF and NHIF have voluntary schemes for informal economy workers, coverage of the informal economy remains low. In 2019, for example, informal economy workers constituted 49.2% of the total membership of the NHIF but only 27.7% of the total employment in the informal economy. Though data for membership of the informal economy workers in the NSSF was not available, the coverage is predicted to be lower than in NHIF. This is despite the informal economy constituting 83% of total employment in Kenya in 20199 and also bearing the greatest burden of precarious employment. The low coverage of informal economy by the NSSF and NHIF is further confirmed by the 2016 Micro Small and Medium Establishments (MSME) Survey, which found that less than 15% of informal economy enterprises make NSSF and NHIF contributions for their workers10. Coverage of female workers is also low with females constituting only 28.6% of the membership of NSSF in 2019. Besides the limited coverage, the NSSF functions as a provident fund providing benefits as a lump sum rather than providing a consumption smoothing mechanism that offers payments on a predictable monthly basis thereby limiting its effectiveness as a social protection mechanism.
Overall, social protection coverage in Kenya remain low with only 10.4% of the population covered by at least one social protection benefit, 24.8% of persons above retirement age receiving pension, 8.1% of children/households receiving child/family cash benefits and no unemployment benefits11. The system mostly targets providing social insurance through formal employment at the exclusion of the informal economy, has lower benefits and coverage on contributory and non- contributory schemes, and provides lower benefits through targeted programmes for the poor.
The non-comprehensive nature of the social protection system in the country is exposed further in the phase of pandemics such as COVID-19, which has disrupted supply chains by constraining
7Kenya National Bureau of Statistics [KNBS, 2018]. Basic Report on Well-being in Kenya, Nairobi: Kenya National Bureau of Statistics
8KNBS (2020). Economic Survey 2019, Nairobi: Kenya National Bureau of Statistics
9KNBS (2020). Economic Survey 2019, Nairobi: Kenya National Bureau of Statistics
10KNBS (2016). Micro, Small and Medium Establishments (MSME) Survey: Basic Report, Nairobi: Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.
11 ILOSTAT (2020)
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production, marketing and distribution of goods and services. Disruptions in businesses has particularly lowered production while loss of income, fear of contagion and heightened uncertainty have undermined aggregate demand. Both formal and informal economy workers have borne the brunt of the pandemic through loss of employment, income and consumption, making them highly vulnerable to drifting further into poverty.
2. Objectives of the consultancy
The main objective of this consultancy is to establish the gaps in and barriers to social protection in Kenya, and the modalities for establishing and extending coverage of social protection that meets the criteria of availability, accessibility, acceptability and quality. Specific objectives are to:
(ix) (x)
ii. iii. iv.
potential impact on stimulating domestic demand
Give recommendations on what can be done to align Kenya’s social protection schemes with ILO Recommendation 202 (National Floors of Social Protection)
Give indications regarding other actors with similar concerns and interests in improving social protection, especially among informal sector organizations.
Inception Report, which contains the understanding of the terms of reference, study design and methodology, and work plan
Draft Report on Extension of Social Protection Coverage in Kenya
Presentation of highlights of findings during the National Conference on Social Protection Final Report on Extension of Social Protection Coverage in Kenya
(i) Document the social protection landscape in Kenya
(ii) Examine the extent to which Kenya’s social protection schemes are in conformity with
ILO Recommendation 202 (National Floors of Social Protection) and the gaps which
(iii) Assess the level of coverage of existing social protection schemes
(iv) Examine trends in replacement ratio of various pension schemes and advise on the
benchmark ratios that workers should negotiate/advocate for
(v) Identify gaps in and barriers to social protection in Kenya with specific focus on formal
and informal economy workers
(vi) Identify appropriate social protection schemes that can be promoted to enhance
coverage and benefits to formal and informal economy workers
(vii) Propose short, medium and long-term measures that can be taken to extend coverage of social protection in Kenya, giving specific strategies to be pursued by trade unions
and informal economy workers and associations
(viii) Outline the economic advantage of social protection programmes and their current and
finalized by 31st October 2020.
consultancy is expected to commence work from the third week of August 2020 and be
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5. Working and reporting modalities
The consultant will work closely with the Decent Work and Social Protection Working Group (DW&SPWG)12, with day to day supervision by the Technical Committee of the DW&SPWG and the Convenor of the DW&SPWG. All deliverables listed above will be processed through the Technical Committee of the DW&SPWG and the Convenor of the DW&SPWG, and presented in a full DW&SPWG meeting.

6. Qualifications of the consultant
The successful applicant must possess the following qualifications:

Post-graduate degree in economics, development studies/international development, international relations, governance and public policy, or any other related field in social sciences
Minimum 15 years’ experience working in the field of social protection in developing countries, preferably in East Africa
Demonstrable experience in dealing with labour and employment issues, and engagement with trade unions and informal economy workers/associations
Documented experience in developing, managing, and working on social protection policies and/or schemes – sample of work done on social protection (not more than 5 years ago) will be required
Demonstrated capacity in strategic thinking, problem solving, high level facilitation of visioning exercises and policy advice
Strong inter-personal, teamwork and organizational skills demonstrated by working with multi-disciplinary teams, broad stakeholder including Government
Excellent presentation and drafting skills, especially writing policy and programme documents
Fluency in written and spoken English and Kiswahili is essential

How to apply
Qualified and interested candidates are requested to email their technical and financial proposals together with updated curriculum vitae and sample of work done on social protection to:

to reach not later than 5.00 P.M on 14th August, 2020. Quoting “Extension of Social Protection Coverage in Kenya Study” on the subject line.

Incomplete application and/or applications received after the deadline will not be considered. Only selected candidates will be notified, not later than 2 weeks after close of applications deadline.
12Policy dialogue platform established by the Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU-K) and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES-Kenya) in 2018.
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Economic and Social Policies

Economic and Social Policies

The Covid-19 pandemic continues to strain our economic and social aspect of workers. The numbers of new infection cases are on a steady rise especially in Kenya. Currently, having a job doesn’t guarantee the ability to escape from poverty.

Our economic and social policies should focus on protecting workers and promoting decent work through programs such as social protection for all in this time of economic crisis brought about by Covid -19.

The global jobs crisis brought about by Covid-19 is one of the biggest security risks of our time. Continuing along the present path of high unemployment numbers and collapsing enterprises and deteriorating informal economy is taking the risk of a world that will be fragmented in the post Covid-period.

 A continued lack of decent work opportunities, insufficient investments and under-consumption lead to an erosion of the basic social contract underlying democratic societies: that all must share in recovery and progress during Post  Covid-19 period. Economic and Social Policies must shape a world of work that is safe and stable for workers to thrive and rebuild their lives.

In solidarity workers, government and employers must work towards flattening the curve of new infections and saving lives must be a priority and we must protect our livelihoods dearly.

Safety at Workplace

With more Kenyans turning Positive to COVID-19 tests the Central Organization of Trade Union in Kenya is focusing on reducing new infections at work places.

In July 18th 2020, Kenya recorded the highest number ever of CoVid-19 positive cases at 688, from a sample size of 4,522 tested in the last 24 hours. The announcement was made by the Cabinet Secretary (CS) for Health, Senator Mutahi Kagwe who projects that the numbers are likely to keep going high.

This calls for all workers to be more responsible and stop the spread of Covid-19 at the work places. This is through observing the Occupational Safety and Health Measures such as sanitizing, regularly washing hands, wearing Personal Protective equipment such as face masks and observing social distance.


Further, adhering to the guidelines issued by the ministry of Health will reduce the new infections both at work place and at Home.



The tripartite partners agreed and signed a Memorandum of Understanding between The Central Organization of Trade Unions in Kenya COTU (K) and Federation of Kenya Employers, FKE and Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, MOLSP.

The unprecedented events as a result of the COVID-19 that has since become a global human threat has greatly affected workers and the MOU is aimed at shielding the workers in this tough times.

The MOU promotes social dialogue including negotiations on working hours and compensation of workers in the Covid-19 pandemic period and it operates on the spirit of protecting both the enterprises and workers from the adverse effects of Covid-19.

There is a great emphasis on Occupational Safety and Health at work places and safety of those working from home. Use of Personal Protective wear such as mask and social distancing is highly encouraged by the MOU.

Promoting safety at work places is a priority highlighted in the MOU to minimize infections at work places. Work spaces such as Kenya Ports Authority have been hit by Covid-19 but there have been great improvements in terms of observing the Ministry of health guidelines.

The MOU is protecting workers and promote decent work even in the difficult circumstances brought about by Covid-19 and in the past 2 months though full of new developments workers have a safe landing in the MOU. 


Consultative Meeting between COTU (K) and SRC

The consultative meeting between Salaries and Remuneration Commission and COTU (K) Affiliates In The Public Sector Unions from 11:00am. The meeting was attended by officials from The Central Organization of Trade Unions in Kenya, COTU (K) and SRC Commissioners as follows;






COTU (K) Bro. Okwaro issued COTU (K) position That COTU (K) will not participate in the development of guidelines. This is due to lack of prior social partners’ participation as would be expected. He further, raised key concerns for COTU (K) which were supported by the team.

The Concerns include;

  1. Interpretation of Mandate of SRC by the Court
  2. SRC Moving to Court to block freely negotiated CBAs and frustrating unions
  3. Lack of Transparency in developing remuneration guidelines for the public service- SRC developed TOR and already hired a consultant without involvement and approval  by COTU (K) and other social partners
  4. SRC is Killing of Social Dialogue among the tripartite partners
  5. Employers delegating their roles in CBA negotiations to SRC

Protect Workers

SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is primarily spread from person to person through respiratory droplets. 

Workers in high-density settings in which workers are in the workplace for long time periods (e.g., for 8-12 hours per shift), and have prolonged close contact (within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more) with coworkers may be at increased risk for exposure to SARS-CoV-2. 

Other distinctive factors that may increase risk for transmission among these workers include: sharing transportation such as ride-share vans or shuttle vehicles, car-pools, and public transportation; frequent contact with fellow workers in community settings in areas where there is ongoing community transmission; and shared or congregate housing such as dormitories. 

Promotion of OSH Occupational Safety and Health Measures could help reduce new cases of Infection among workers 

International Domestic Workers Day

The Central Organization of Trade Unions in Kenya in  collaboration with Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotels, Educational Institutions, Hospitals and Allied workers KUDHEIHA and International Domestic Workers Federation IDWFED distributed food and Personal Protective Equipment PPEs to domestic workers at the COTU(K) headquarters today. Further, COTU (K) Officials and staff sensitized the workers about Covid-19 and their labour rights. The safety of domestic workers is very critical in this period. ‬