Kenya: Adventists Oppose
6-day Workweek Proposal
BY ANSEL OLIVER, Adventist News Network
eventh-day Adventists in Kenya are criticizing a government proposal that would set up a six-day workweek and require civil servants to work on Saturday, the biblical Sabbath and day of rest for the nearly 16 million-member global denomination.
Kenya's minister of state for public service introduced the proposal after a government team examined a new work model.
Adventist Church leaders called on the government to suspend the proposal, saying requiring members employed as civil servants to work on Saturday would conflict with the constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion.
"While appreciating the minister's zeal to drive our nation to a 24-hour economy, we are of the opinion that any moves in that direction should be sensitive to the fundamental and God-given rights of all Kenyans," said Paul Muasya, executive director of the East African Union Mission, in a statement during a press conference in Nairobi last week. His entire statement also appeared on April 10 as advertisements in national newspapers, including Daily Nation and The Standard.
Church leaders in Kenya said the proposal could affect 15 percent of the country's civil servants. Union of Kenya Civil Servants representatives said they would accept working Saturdays if they were paid overtime, according to the Nation.
The Nation reported Minister of State for Public Service Asman Kamama as saying he had urged public servants to stop being "conservative" and "embrace change."
Kamama was not immediately available for comment.
The church's Justice and Commission Committee met April 10 to set in place plans to oppose the minister's plan, said Philip Gai, the church's communication director in East Africa. "We intend to dialogue with the minister concerned, lobby through our Adventist members of parliament, lobby through the Adventist lawyers association, meet with the civil servants union leaders and meet with the Federation of Kenya Employers," Gai said.
"We also want to sensitize church members on the situation and embark on religious liberty seminar in all our churches," he added.
Kenya, a country of about 37 million people, is home to roughly 565,000 Adventists. Church leaders estimate that figure jumps to nearly 3 million when including children who have not yet chosen to join the church through baptism. --ANN