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International Labour Day: Uganda has enough reasons to celebrate

By Titus Kakembo

Added 5th May 2016 06:01 PM

According to the Minister of Labour and Social Development, Muruli Mukasa, the great achievement for the worker has been the operationalization the Industrial Court. This took place on July 1, last year.

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Minister of Labour and Social Development, Muruli Mukasa

According to the Minister of Labour and Social Development, Muruli Mukasa, the great achievement for the worker has been the operationalization the Industrial Court. This took place on July 1, last year.

As Uganda joined the rest of the world to commemorate International Labour Day on May 1, the country had several reasons to celebrate.

According to the Minister of Labour and Social Development, Muruli Mukasa, the great achievement for the worker has been the operationalization the Industrial Court. This took place on July 1, last year.

“It has the mandate to arbitrate on labour disputes referred to it,” explained Mukasa. According to the Acting Deputy Registrar of the court, Gladys Nakibuule, the court has so far received 249 files that were referred to it from the Civil Division of the High Court that are labour-related.”These are in addition to adjudicating upon questions of law and facts arising from references to it any other law.”

The court is holding its own. For instance, in a dispute, appeal 008/2015 Sure Telecom vs Brian Azemchap, the complainant was awarded damages worth more than sh14m for his employee damaging his character. 

On the other hand, through the Medical Arbitration Board, 56 cases have so far been concluded this year.

“Its target is resolving disputes related to health issues at the workplace,” revealed Mukasa.

Counting the achievements further, Mukasa added that, there is the DWCP (Decent Work Country Programme) inaugurated in August 2013. Mukasa explains that the priorities of DWCP II are to improve industrial relations, productivity and adherence to labour standards through strengthening of labour.

To improve the workplace and render it more beneficial to workers there was a reactivation of the Minimum Wages Advisory Boards and Wages Councils Act.

This is supposed to be done through the promotion of Occupational Safety and Health Act 2006 by government.  This involves the registration of workplaces, licensing and certification of equipment. So far more than 800 workplaces have been registered. The ministry has also taken action against some none compliant institutions and will soon prosecute those who have not registered.

 “The Minimum Wages Board was approved by Cabinet and has commenced work,” confirmed Mukasa. “It provides for the establishment of the Minimum Wages Board by the minister responsible for Labour to advise on minimum wages and determine other conditions of employment for employees in any occupation.”

Leaving no stone unturned, the Government through the ministry is implementing the provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 2006. The act stipulates such measures as the registration of workplaces, licensing and certification of equipment. “So far more than 800 workplaces have been registered in less than a year.  In future, non-compliant institutions will be prosecuted,” says Mukasa.

The controversial labour export is also destined to be checked and regulated to safeguard Ugandans. This is by enhanced coordination, licensing of private recruitment agencies and facilitating access to job opportunities abroad.

This follows media reports of women and girls taken abroad being turned into sex slaves and the having their travel documents retained.

“The Government has also signed bi-lateral agreements with Saudi Arabia January 22, 2016,” confirmed Mukasa. “The nature of job got is less than $200 promised per week.”

The season has been busy with several activities including a Labour Week which involved several activities including; HIV/AIDS counselling, cleaning of Mutolere Town Council and tree planting.

On April 28, the World Day of Occupational Health and Safety, was celebrated in honour of victims of work-related accidents and diseases. These comprise infection by diseases like Ebola, TB or HIV. This is in addition to losing limbs or sight.

Summing up Mukasa called upon all Ugandans, while celebrating this year’s International Labour Day, to pay homage to people who have contributed greatly to the revival of our country. They comprise the judiciary, union activists and human rights crusaders.

Adding his voice to the achievements, the ministry’s commissioner, Patrick Okello says, a lot is being done to improve the workplace.

“Labour is the divinely sanctioned means for earning a living,” said Okello. “The more reason the workforce is increasing although there is growing concern that the number of unemployment and underemployment could become insurmountable and hinder national development.”

But attempts are being undertaken to address it. This concern is validated by the fact that the population is growing much faster than the rate at which the economy is generating jobs.  Summing up that, the availability of more and better quality jobs is the only means that can enable the poor and vulnerable people to actively participate in the country’s value-addition process to increase their productivity, improve their income, profits and transform their lives.

The more reason government is concerned about labour standards and the workers’ welfare transformation and improvement of their lives to eradicate poverty.

 

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