Parliament agrees on motion to revise the minimum wage
Posted Friday, February 22 2013 at 02:00
MPs yesterday moved a bi-partisan motion seeking to revise the country’s minimum wage. If eventually passed into law, it will introduce a minimum hourly amount that employers will have to pay their workers.
Workers’ MP Arinaitwe Rwakajara moved the motion supported by Mr Paul Mwiru [FDC, Jinja Municipality East] and Mr James Mbahimba [NRM, Kasese Municipality].
“The existing legislation on minimum wage is out-dated and lack of one exposes workers to exploitation by their employees and poor working conditions,” MP Rwakaraja said. “We need to have a comprehensive legislation to protect employees.”
The House overwhelmingly welcomed the motion and granted Mr Rwakajara leave of Parliament to draft a private members’ Bill that would form the basis for the proposed Minimum Wages Bill 2011.
Addressing journalists earlier in the day, the legislators noted that Uganda is the only country in East Africa without a minimum wage.
The MPs want employers who fail to comply with the Bill to pay a fine of Shs10 million and compensate workers.
Uganda last set a minimum wage of Shs6,000 per month in 1984. The decree has remained in force to this day.
The Minimum Wage Advisory Council in 1995 recommended a Shs75,000 minimum monthly wage for unskilled workers, which has never been implemented.
The MPs intend to propose a minimum wage based on different sectors. The MPs want the minister to appoint a Minimum Wages Board to determine the sectors, work hours and conditions.
Trade unionists have called for a review of labour laws in the country but government has not heeded to their demands.
Unionists have for long been pushing President Museveni’s various administrations to fix the minimum wage at Shs250,000 to protect workers from exploitation. Their efforts have, however, met with steady resistance from the government, amid lobbying by some private sector interests.
Last year, workers in various trade unions boycotted celebrating Labour Day, saying the government had failed to address a number of their concerns, including fixing a minimum wage.
Government officials worry that a minimum wage could raise the cost of doing business and put off potential investors.