Trade unionists have today clashed over the question of whether they should participate in the walk to work protests being led by the opposition.
A war of words ensued among trade unionists with some saying they should be at the front line of the protests. Mary Irene Kabole General secretary Public Service Union said the reason trade unionists are not participating in the protests is because their leaders such as Wilson Owere are affiliated to the ruling NRM. Owere is the General Chairman of the National Organization of Trade Unions.
The two met at the launch of the report on labor rights titled “The long road to realizing labor rights in Uganda. The report notes that government has dragged its feet on the implementation of a badly needed minimum wage Act. It also demands that since the national employment policy was passed in 2001 a minimum wage advisory board should be established.
Kabole adds that Owere has failed to represent workers and ensure their labor rights are respected because during the campaigns he was working for the NRM task force sourcing for funds. She says that Owere does not understand a thing because he is manipulating the system due to his political affiliation that has consumed him.
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Owere defensively says the walk to work protests is not a bad concept but it has been hijacked by politicians. He says that there must be a plan rather than waking up and demonstrate instead of considering negotiation.
He reveals that they are preparing a paper on basic needs of life which will be presented to the Minister of Finance, Labor and Pubic service this Thursday ahead of the budget reading.
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The Executive Director Foundation for Human Rights Initiative Livingstone Sewanyana says the launch that comes a week before Labor Day, is meant to advice government on what changes need to be made in regards to workers rights.
Sewanyana says there is need for an operational industrial Court that is instituted with a judge and an independent ministry of labor.
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The report recommends that a minimum wage law should be enacted without further delay.
The report also notes that foreign investors regularly violate Uganda’s labor laws and are being shelters by the government against enforcement of Labor laws.
They want government to re-evaluate the rationale that enforcing labor rights is at odds with a strong economy and may discourage investment. It will also cease sheltering foreign investors from enforcement of labor rights.
The report recommends that Parliament debate the Uganda Retirement Benefits Authority Bill and amend the draft Bill to remove the Minister of Finance’s ability to issue compulsory directives to the Retirement Benefits Authority.
foundation for human rights initiative
public service union