By Moses Walubiri
LEGISLATORS on the committee of gender want the executive to consider creating a standalone ministry of labour to tackle the complex challenges facing the country in the realm of labour.
The MPs contend that lumping gender, culture and labo together in one ministry has made issues on labor to be relegated to a mere department despite their importance in a country with a young population and abysmal working conditions.
The demand was one of the issues that came up in an interface between minister of Gender, Karooro Okurut, and MPs on Wednesday as the latter scrutinize the gender ministry budget for the financial year 2014/15.
“We have a very young population with many struggling to get employment. Those lucky to get jobs work in abysmal working conditions. All these labor issues require a standalone ministry to handle grievances and other challenges that come with such a situation,” workers’ MP, Arinaitwe Rwakajara fired the first salvo.
Committee chairperson, Margaret Komuhangi, said the committee has routinely recommended that labour be given a separate ministry on account of its importance.
Minister of state for labour, Mwesigwa Rukutana, said the ministry will write a cabinet memo about the issue to “help persuade the president about the merits of a standalone labour ministry.”
“The prerogative of creating ministries is with the president. We can only lobby and persuade him to buy our idea which definitely has merit.”
Under the budding East African Community (EAC), Uganda is the only country without a standalone labor ministry.
Rukutana noted that creating such a ministry will be in sync with the community protocol which calls for harmonizing the administrative structures of member countries.
He also noted that the issue has been raised in different forums, especially during meetings of the International Labor Organization, where Uganda is a member.
Government decided to merge ministry of labor with that of gender and culture as one of the mechanisms to scale down expenditure on public administration.
Uganda has a double-whammy of a young and fast growing population rates in the world with its universities churning out an estimated 400,000 graduates annually – majority of whom are hardly employable.
However, the committee’s previous push for a standalone labor ministry to forestall a crisis likely to be caused by thousands of unemployed youths have been met by hostile reception by a majority of legislators keen to keep expenditure on public administration in check.
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