Atwoli Wants Mobile Money Agents Recognised as Employees

March 19, 2021

Central Organization of Trade Unions(COTU) secretary general Francis Atwoli wants mobile money agents classified as employees of their respective companies.

In a statement on Thursday, the trade unionist called for laws to cushion the agents. He said any appropriate definition of an employee, in regards to the changing world of work, should not fail to classify M-Pesa agents and Airtel Money agents as employees of Safaricom and Airtel respectively.

Atwoli wondered why the hardworking Kenyans who bring revenue to the companies while working as agents cannot be recognised as employees.

“For instance, as of April 2020, before Safaricom temporarily removed transaction costs for amounts below Sh1,000, the declared revenue that Safaricom received, that financial year, from M-Pesa agents was about Sh85 billion while from voice was about Sh95 billion,” Atwoli said.

He continued, “It is, therefore, our position that all the M-Pesa agents are workers of Safaricom and must be treated as such. Over and above that, Safaricom must allow for the unionisation of their workers.”

Atwoli cited a UK’s Supreme Court landmark ruling that determined Uber Drivers are “workers” and not “self-employed”.

The COTU boss said the ruling saw Uber reclassify about 70,000 UK Uber drivers as workers, making them entitled to a minimum wage of about Sh1,300 per every hour of trips made.

Atwoli added, “We would like to note that it is just a matter of time before Safaricom starts declaring losses on Voice and Data revenues, just like many telephone companies around the world, thus making it very dependent on these M-Pesa agents.”

At the same time, Atwoli said COTU is in the process of moving to court to compel Uber and other digital taxi hailing companies to reclassify their Kenyan drivers as workers.

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