By Henry Sekanjako
Uganda will by the end of July next year have a minimum wage, the state minister for labour Rukutana Mwesigwa has said.
Addressing an international labor organization (ILO) conference in Geneva –Switzerland, he told delegates that a minimum wage advisory board will be set up and that Uganda will have a minimum wage by July next year.
“We have prepared a paper which will be presented to cabinet, once approved the wages board will be expected to complete its work, the recommendations of the board shall be presented to cabinet again for approval by end of April 2015."
He however, noted that there was need to undertake a comprehensive study on the wage trends in different sectors of the economy by analyzing employment trends, cost of living, and wage trends by profession and geographical regions.
“Fixing a minimum wage without regard to all these factors may destabilize our macro-economic framework and affect employment trends,” Rukutana said.
According to the secretary general of the National Organization of Trade Unions, who is also in Geneva, government came under attack over the country’s failure to have a minimum wage after Ugandan unionists petitioned the international committee of experts.
The unionists accused Uganda for refusing to adhere to principles of the international labour organization that call for respect of workers’ rights.
Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms that every “everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work and protection against unemployment.” It further states that everyone without any discrimination has the right to equal pay for equal work.
Last year, workers MP Arinaitwe Rwakajara and MP Paul Mwiru moved a bi-partisan motion before parliament seeking to revise the country’s minimum wage.
Uganda last set a minimum wage of sh6, 000 per month in 1984, which has remained in force to this day.
The Minimum Wage Advisory Council in 1995 recommended a sh75, 000 minimum monthly wage for unskilled workers, which has never been implemented.
Unionists have for long been pushing government to fix the minimum wage at sh250, 000 to protect workers from exploitation.
However, last year during the Labour Day celebrations, President Yoweri Museveni assured minimum wage crusaders that Government will not rush into setting a minimum wage saying the focus was on attracting investors to create more job opportunities.
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