Casualization of labour is eating away the efforts of many Ugandans
The former Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) executive director Dr. Maggie Kigozi has said it is not enough for women activists to only talk to other women especially those at grass root level about their rights when they are not financially stable.
She said for women activists to have great impact on the lives of women, they need to empower them economically so that they are able to start their own income generating activities.
"It is not enough to know my rights when my pockets are empty, as you educate women about their rights, also find ventures of economically empowering them. For instance, you can help them access loans in banks so that they start up their own income generating activities like poultry, piggery, and other businesses to make their own money and improve their livelihood," she said.
Kigozi was speaking at a women's dialogue on labour laws in Uganda held at Hotel Africana organised by Action for Development (ACFODE).
The dialogue was under the theme ‘Women in Private and Public Institutions; Rights of Workers, Industrial Actions, Role in the Women's Movement’.
Giving a presentation on the labour laws in Uganda, Lydia Bwitte, programme officer in the Legal department of Platform for Labour Action (PLA) noted that though there are good laws in place, there are challenges still being faced.
Among them, lack of protection measures for migrant workers, most employers in the private sector denying female workers that have just given birth 60 days of maternity leave which they are entitled to by law.
Casualization of labour was another challenge she pointed out explaining that it is eating away the efforts of many Ugandans because it is the lowest paying sector following mining and quarrying, and domestic service.
She revealed that in this case, it is the women that are mostly affected because they are the biggest percentage, 50% doing casual work.
In relation to the actualization of work, Bwitte noted that one of the regulations in the Employment Act on the regulation of the casual workers, it articulates that after a person has been a casual worker for four months, they are supposed to be made permanent and paid salary, but since it is just a regulation in the act not in the law, some employers are paying workers on quarterly basis, which becomes hard to regulate.
She further noted that casual workers are also missing out on benefits of National Social Security Fund (NSSF), since they earn less and can hardly save.
"It becomes hard to enforce such kind of regulation; we therefore need the law amended so that regulation in the act on casual workers is included, making it easy for us to follow up with employers that exploits casual workers by not paying them on permanent basis," she said.
The executive director of ACFODE, Regina Bafaki said there is need for women activists to join campaigns to lobby, demand, request and advocate for passing of the Minimum Wage Bill so that women's contribution to the workforce are recognized and rewarded.