Minimum wage protects workers from exploitation, improves their welfare
Posted Saturday, February 9 2013 at 02:00
The disclosure by the Minister of State for Labour Mwesigwa Rukutana that government plans to constitute a Minimum Wage Board is not only a welcome move but also long overdue. The said board is to advise government on the appropriate minimum wage to be set for Ugandan workers.
Uganda continues to lag behind in as far as providing adequate protection to the vulnerable workers is concerned.
Lack of a minimum wage has often resulted into a lot of exploitation of the Ugandan workers, reducing them to second class citizens. The long-held argument that fixing a minimum wage would scare away investors and shrink employment opportunities for Ugandans is not tenable any longer.
First of all, investors should not be afforded a blanket protection at the expense of Ugandans. Whereas we have a large unemployed work force, it does not help matters to leave determination of wage at the hands of employers whose aim is largely to maximise profits and have nothing to do with improving the welfare of their employees.
Having a minimum wage commensurate with the cost of living would help workers cope with the current dire financial situation and go a long way to improve the general welfare of Ugandan workers.
Apart from putting in place a minimum wage, government should also include in the policy a clause on paying employees especially those in the civil service according to their qualifications, seniority, experience and nature of the work done.
For instance a junior employee at KCCA should not earn a salary equivalent to or higher than that of the Chief Justice or a commissioner in a ministry. Having a minimum wage in place will tilt the balance in favour of Ugandan workers and ensure the win-win situation between employees and their employers.