Museveni advises African ministers on labour rights

Friday February 14 2020

Regional meeting. The Minister of Justice and

Regional meeting. The Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Prof Ephraim Kamuntu (centre), with Mr Frank Tumwebaze, the Gender minister (2nd left), and other officials at Speke Resort, Munyonyo, where he opened the 46th session of the Governing Council for the African Regional Labour Administration Centre yesterday. Photo by Stephen Otage 

By Stephen Otage & Elizabeth Kamurungi

President Museveni has advised African Labour ministers to devise solutions to unemployment, underemployment, poor working conditions and informal jobs rather than harassing people eking a living from such activities.

While opening the 46th session of the Governing Council for the African Regional Labour Administration Centre at Speke Resort, Munyonyo, yesterday, the President, who was represented by the Justice minister, Prof Ephraim Kamuntu, told ministers to improve working conditions that create decent jobs.

“It is common knowledge that labour administration is facing new challenges in the informal economy, immigrant workers and undeclared work. Much as economic growth has been registered, it has not generated the much desired jobs,” Mr Museveni said.
He added that the ministers should create systems for social protection of workers’ rights that guarantee social security.

“Government of Uganda is implementing various social protection programmes to improve citizens’ lives where we have unemployment, underemployment, labour migration, poor working conditions, vulnerable groups, chronic diseases,” the President said.

Asked why city law enforcement authorities continue harassing informal traders such as boda boda riders, street vendors and hawkers if government is interested in improving their working conditions, Prof Kamuntu said Cabinet decided that as long as someone is operating within the law, they should not be arrested.

He said if they have offended the law, the manner in which such people are arrested should not be degrading. “Whatever law that is being enforced must be done humanely. We want a society that is law abiding, a society where institutions make it practically impossible for you to break the law. If you break a law for whatever reason, they should arrest you. In arresting you, they should not shame you, kick you, [or] break your leg,” Prof Kamuntu said.


The ministers also agreed to resolutions geared towards improving social protection for African workers.
Member states agreed to share consular services in countries where others may not have embassies to protect migrant workers, sign bilateral and multilateral agreements that guarantee social protection across borders, and for Labour ministries to take charge of social protection bodies, among others.

These will be presented at the International Labour Organisation Conference in June for further deliberation.