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Workers want minimum wage

By Vision Reporter

Added 30th April 2009 03:00 AM

WORKERS’ representatives want the Government to fix a minimum wage as the country marks Labour Day.

WORKERS’ representatives want the Government to fix a minimum wage as the country marks Labour Day.

By Raymond Baguma and Joyce Namutebi

WORKERS’ representatives want the Government to fix a minimum wage as the country marks Labour Day.

While the cost of living was going up, workers’ salaries remained low, said Mary Irene Kaboole, the general secretary of the Uganda Government and Allied Workers Union.

“I would like a living wage that can enable a worker go to the market to buy foodstuffs, have transport and cover health bills during sickness,” she told The New Vision.

Addressing a press conference at Parliament yesterday, Workers’ MP Dr. Sam Lyomoki said the workers had concluded negotiations with the Government over the minimum wage.

The only thing remaining was for the Government to announce it.

Lyomoki, who is the secretary general of the Central Union of Free Trade Unions, stressed that the workers would not wait for 40 years for the minimum wage to be fixed as state minister for labour Emmanuel Otaala was quoted as saying.

“We shall pressurise the Government to announce the minimum wage. We are just giving
them a few months.”

Otaala told journalists on Wednesday that the Government was not concentrating on setting a minimum wage. He said the Government had liberalised the economy and eased the process of business registration. This would attract investments, widen the country’s tax base, and lead to economic development.

With increased incomes, the workers’ wages would automatically improve, Otaala argued.

At the press conference, Lyomoki also gave the Government two weeks to table the Social Security Bill in Parliament, warning that the workers representatives would table their own bill if it failed to do so.

The bill, he said, is about instituting reforms in the National Social Security Fund (NSSF).

He pointed out that the workers want the age at which they access their money from NSSF reduced from 55 to 45 for those who are still working and from 50 to 40 for those who are not working.

He also said the workers want a provision enabling them to get loans from their NSSF money. They also want the money generated by NSSF through workers’ contributions to be invested in setting up industries that would address the problem of unemployment.

Lyomoki noted that Uganda has good labour laws but they are not being enforced.

The Federation of Uganda Employers cited infrastructure, corruption and red-tape as the issues that needed to be addressed.

Director Rosemary Ssenabulya noted that with the global economic crisis, the Government should come in to support affected companies and consider financial bailouts.

National celebrations for Labour Day will take place in Soroti district today under the theme: “Promoting local investment for increased employment opportunities.”

Workers want minimum wage

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