Arrangements have been finalised for government to establish the Minimum Wages Advisory Board, a move labour rights advocates said would help to save the vulnerable and marginalised workers realise theie economic rights.
Accordingly, a list of names from the various stakeholders including, line ministries and labour centres, have been selected and sent to Cabinet pending approval.
“We got the names from the various constituents and out of the list, only nine members will be selected to start the process that would guide in establishing minimum remuneration that employers may legally pay to their workers in the various sectors,” Mr Mugalu Kamya, the Commissioner for Labour, told Jobs and Career.
Mr Kamya made the remarks at the dissemination of survey findings by Platform for Labour Action (PLA) in which activists asked government to implement the Labour Policy in order to improve labour administration and standards.
The PLA report indicates that workers interviewed in the informal sector decried wide spread exploitation of the country’s labour force, suggesting the need to put in place legal instruments to protect them.
“…that 93 per cent (of the workers) expressed willingness to testify in Parliament or other relevant forums on behalf of fellow vulnerable workers to clarify on their working conditions. Their current working conditions perpetuate their economic, social, legal and political exclusion,” reads the report in part.
Ms Diana Prida, a lawyer working with the labour rights organisation, said the current minimum wage which amounts to less than a dollar a day, cannot enable a worker earn a decent living by enabling them acquire the basic necessities of life.
“Despite the high unemployment and brutal global economic competition, the delayed appreciation of the importance of minimum wages and their essential relationship to human dignity and development, is contrary to the government’s proclamation of prosperity for all,” she said.
Labour rights activists argue that lack of a minimum wage and inadequate data on the number of employees in the country has sliced government revenue in terms of Pay As You Earn, saying the lack of a regulation to ensure a fixed pay for workers has failed the government policy of collecting revenue due to lack of data on workers.
In June, the State Minister for Labour, Mr Mwesigwa Rukutana, announced that government would fix the minimum wage by June next year.
Mr Rukutana said the government had prepared a paper which will be presented to Cabinet to reactivate the Minimum Wages Advisory Board.
The minister’s revelations followed complaints by workers on the operationalisation of the minimum wage fixing machinery at the ongoing Committee of Experts on the application of Conventions and Recommendations in ensuring the observance of labour standards.
In 1967 Uganda ratified the Minimum Wage-Fixing Machinery Convention which was domesticated into national law through the establishment of the Minimum Wages Advisory Board and Wages Councils Act adopted in 1964, after joining the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in 1963.
The machinery worked to review the minimum wage until in 1984 when it put it at Shs6,000 (about $2.3) per month.