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Thousands of people are protesting in Kenya after the government tried to pass a finance bill that would increase taxes. Unions are supporting the youth in the protests, says Reuben Chepkonga, LO's consulant in Kenya. Foto: Johanne Hovland.

Unions support protesters in Kenya

A new generation of brave young people in Kenya has forced the government to stop large tax increases for ordinary people. - The protesting youth sent a clear message to government and civil society actors to address key challenges affecting the youth and society at large, says Reuben Chepkonga, LO's consultant in Kenya.


LO's consulant Reuben Chepkonga underlines that the victory of the withdrawn tax bill has come at a huge human cost.

“The peaceful protestors were met with excessive use of force by the police and infiltration by politically hired goons. This have led to unnecessary deaths, injuries, forced disappearances, and the destruction of property.”

What started as an online social media opposition to the government’s Finance Bill 2024, aimed to raise additional taxes amounting to USD 2.6 billion, soon turned out as nationwide protests.

For the past weeks young people have led street protests addressing issues of corruption and poor governance, inequality, democracy, economic freedom, political accountability, and transparency.

Many of the issues the young protesters have raised have the support of several trade unions. The Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacies and Dentist Union (KMPDU) supported the protest by providing free medical services to injured protestors, led blood donation drives and provided sound systems for the protesters countrywide.

“Some of the medical staff and union members supporting the protests were attacked by the police and some were abducted,” Chepkonga says.

The teachers’ union, Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT), have supported the youth by using their common voice to petition the government to respond to issues raised by the youth including increased funds to the education sector and employment of teachers.

A group of former Kenya Civil Servants Union officials and members have called for labour unions to join the protests and fight for their rights.

“The youth continue to put pressure on authorities to make changes. The government already shelved a plan to increase salaries for members of parliament and other high-ranking officials, and county governments have shelved plans to introduce local finance bills for their counties,” Chepkonga says.

Friday July 5th, president Ruto ceded to some more demands from the youth:

  • Appointed an independent task force to carry out a comprehensive forensic audit of our public debt and report to us in the next 3 months. This will provide Kenyans clarity on the extent of our debt and how resources have been expended.
  • 47 State corporations with overlapping and duplicating functions will be dissolved, resulting in the elimination of their operational and maintenance costs. Staff currently employed in the affected offices will be transferred.
  • Suspended the positions of Chief Administrative Secretaries (CAS) and reduced the number of advisors in government will reduce by 50%. The budget for the office of the 1st Lady and the spouse of the Deputy President and the Prime CS will be removed.
  • No state officer or public servant  shall take part in fundraising going forward.
  • All nonessential travel by the State and Public Officers is hereby suspended.
  • Hiring of teachers and doctors
  • The government will support all those who lost their lives and those who've been injured.

For more details on the ongoing protests in Kenya, read LO’s consultant Reuben Chepkonga full report: