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State commits to improve labour mechanisms in the country 

The government has pledged to encourage workers to sharpen their skills and increase their productive capacity and income by pursuing education and training opportunities.

Speaking during the inaugural meeting by the newly appointed members of the National Labour Board (NLB), Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection Florence Bore said that they have embarked on an ambitious programme of labour migration to facilitate the employment of many young unemployed Kenyans beyond national borders.

Bore said that the state is keen to enter into Bilateral Labour Agreements (BLA) to ensure fair, ethical and orderly recruitment and safe migration.

“We continue to put emphasis on building employability skills and competencies for our people, for both local and international labour markets,” she said.

She added that the government has revitalized the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) centers across the country and promoted recognition of prior learning.

She said they are also working on an integrated Labour Market Information System from improved access to labour market actors.

“We must always strive to balance the interests of employers and workers to maintain industrial peace and harmony necessary for fostering productivity. As you may observe, we are engaged in diverse sectors and therefore there is a need to have policy coherence and in which we expect the board to give guidance,” she said.

The CS said that NLB has a heavy backlog of agenda items for discussion as they last met in October 2021.

She noted that the inaugural meeting will provide a forum for members to discuss, consult and make crucial decisions on urgent matters which have been awaiting decisions and guidance.

“Some of these include requests for ratification of International Labour Standards, application for revocation of recognition agreements and review of labour laws, among others,” she added.

She underscored the need to restructure and re-engineer the board in order to make it more viable adding that it is important to bench-mark with other economies within the region and globally to learn the structure and how the board can enhance its effectiveness in directing the labour administration system to global standards and in the context of future of work.

Bore said there is also a need to mobilize resources externally for purposes of enhancing service delivery and re-engineering the functionality of key labour institutions including the National Labour Board.

She said her ministry will continue lobbying for enhanced budgetary allocation from the National Treasury to support the State Department for Labour and Skills Development which has been impeded by inadequate resource allocation.

She asked for the support of NLB and Social Partners-Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) and Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) as they explore charging of fees for some of public services.

“I know as seasoned negotiators we cannot fail to reach an agreement on this. I also call upon the International Labour Organization who has been supporting us in various activities and other development partners to continue collaborating with us. I therefore encourage you to deliberate on these pertinent issues and chart the best way forward for the board to keep up if not ahead of these many challenges,” she said.

The CS assured the board members that the ministry is committed to ensure that they are provided with all the necessary support for them to fulfill their mandate effectively.

She added that the secretary to the board will regularly brief her and the board members on any emerging issues in the labour sector for her to offer guidance when required for the success of the vital institution.

Chairman NLB David Siele said that they hope that the board will be transformed into an independent body with its own budget so as to be able to run effectively.

Siele said it is their prayer that their voice as board members will be heard and taken seriously on crucial labour matters in the country.

He said the previous board faced some serious financial challenges which made it very difficult to manage its affairs and meet regularly as stipulated by the law.

“I humbly request your office to look into this issue of finances very seriously. The members also need to enhance their skills through capacity building so as to be able to deliver effectively,” he said.

According to Siele, the board is a tripartite organization of caucus representatives, government representatives, employers’ representatives and independent members.

By Chari Suche

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