Ugandan labour unions too weak, says expert

Mr Charles Kumbi addresses guests at the International Day of Decent Work celebrations recently. Photo by Stephen Otage

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Properly managed unions are said to enhance productivity of both the companies and the workers.

KAMPALA. The labour movement in Uganda is divided and too weak to engage employers constructively and arrive at a consensus on working conditions, a labour and industrial relations expert has said.
While conducting a corporate governance training for selected labour movements recently, Mr Charles Kumbi, the Africa regional project coordinator for the Global Industrial labour Union, said labour unions in Uganda also lack the knowledge to understand how corporate systems work and they cannot engage employers constructively to negotiate good deals for employees.
“The biggest challenge I have seen here is that labour unions cannot interpret financial statements of companies to understand the financial health of a company and this gives the employer chance to make a lot of profits and pay employees little,” he said.
He added that contrary to the belief that the unions pose a burden to employers, they should instead embrace them because properly managed unions enhance the productivity of both the companies and the workers since human beings are the primary source of production.
In Uganda, apart from teachers in government schools under the Uganda National Teachers’ Union and public university staff under their academic staff associations, which have managed to bring government to a roundtable to negotiate for better terms of service, there are hardly any workers and labour unions to point at which are vibrant and protective of workers’ interests.

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