UGANDAN security guards serving in Iraq will for the second time in two years see a drastic pay cut. The risky job of protecting American soldiers and installations will now earn the guards $450 (about sh1m) a month down from $600 last year in 2008.
Conan Businge and Fortunate Ahimbisibwe report that the Government has approved a 25% salary reduction for new recruits, according to a communication from the Labour ministry.
The risky job of protecting American soldiers and installations will now earn the guards $450 (about sh1m) a month.
This is down from $600 last year and between $900 and $1,200 two years ago, according to figures from the labour ministry.
The new salary cut does not apply to on-going contracts where a higher figure was agreed upon.
The move is said to be a result of the global economic crisis. But it also has to do with stiff competition from neighbouring countries.
Labour state minister Emmanuel Otaala, in a letter to the recruitment agencies last week, attributed the salary reduction to a â€˜dip in the employment marketâ€™.
â€œMany employers are choosing to respond to the economic crisis by taking measures to reduce their labour costs, which include reducing wages or working hours. Others are terminating employees,â€ the letter said.
The ministry, it adds, had received information that the American companies that employ Ugandan guards at $600 are shifting to recruiting Kenyans at $400.
Otaala confirmed the move in a telephone interview with The New Vision. In the last six months, he said, Uganda had failed to get slots for 1,000 guards in Iraq due to their high cost.
â€œIt is on this basis that the Government has decided to revise the minimum wage. The reduction is to help Uganda remain competitive in the market.â€
Dreshak International, one of the main companies recruiting for Iraq, initiated the first request for a salary cut in 2008.
After negotiating the reduction, however, the company took its business to Kenya, where it recruited about 3,000 Kenyans in April and November 2008. The Kenyans are in Camp Echo and Camp Summers in Baghdad.
Government records show that there are 12,300 Ugandan guards in Iraq. They are recruited through one of the seven recognised agencies.
Iraq based Ugandan guards face pay cut