NOTU says Employers frustrating workers

During recruitment, experts believe there is devastating nepotism.

Employers have been blamed for refusing their employees from joining workers’ unions in order to maximise their own profits.
According to Usher Wilson Were, the chairman general, National Organisation of Trade Unions (NOTU), this has also hindered the union from fighting for workers rights, among other things.

However, he cautions that the law will catch up with such employers who will be taken to the Industrial Court.
“There are about 20 labour union affiliates which should ideally be helping the workforce get meaningful employment terms. But employers are frustrating the cause,” he told Jobs and Career ahead of Labour Day celebrations due Sunday.
This after labour experts and advocates said currently, the country is grappling with weak labour laws.
Dr Rogers Barigayomwe, the interim chairman, Labour Party said there is a great gap given that the written laws are not practiced.

“There is deficiency; some employees work without contracts as stipulated in the labour laws. Some are not granted leave. Similarly, maternity leave is determined by employers as they deem necessary. Fathers’ leave is not granted,” he says of the state of labour in the country.
Ms Lydia Bwiite, a human rights advocate, says in Uganda, investors profit from the ignorance of workers.
“The Occupational Health and Safety Act which stipulates that workers be given protective gear is not followed. In some companies, workers are told to come with their own gloves, boots and helmets,” she says.
Apart from the minimum wage of Shs6,000 per month which was set in 1984, Dr Barigayomwe says pay disparities are a major concern.
“You find that people with the same qualifications and doing the same work getting different salaries. For instance, one will earn about Shs300,000 while another will earn Shs 1m.
During recruitment, city lawyer Israel Mayengo believes there is devastating nepotism.
“You find companies employing their own relatives and tribesmen. It is not about qualifications any more. It is a ‘who do you know and who knows you’ affair,” he says.
However, Were says the National Employment Policy which is already in place guides labour laws on how they should operate and ensure that labour rights are observed. That is why the Industrial Court was opened recently to make sure those issues like the mechanisms of occupational and safety are observed,” Were said.

Way forward
Were says Notu seeks to improve workers’ rights through collective bargaining agreement, where workers, management sit and negotiate working conditions, welfare and discipline. Here, both parties sign an agreement which is binding.
“Worth citing is that the minimum wage issue has reached advanced level. A minimum wage board has been set,” he says. “We are also working with employers to do research sector by sector to find common issues and how to solve them. Our sole aim is to ensure that workers are comfortable by negotiating with government on employment policies,” he explains.

To curb the challenges, Bwiite recommends that labour institutions be established in every district like it’s meant to be. These should be fully facilitated and their officers equipped with knowledge on labour laws.
·Revision of labour laws; the minimum wage should be revised and made reasonable so it can resonate with the current standards. This will solve a number of issues.
·At the national level, Government should amend the Employment Act of 2006 to include a home as a work place and define domestic work in the law.

·Workers should be sensitised on their rights or entitlements so that they can make claims where need be.
·NSSF needs to improve its enforcement. There are so many workers who do not make remittances.
·Funding for the industrial court should be provided. The budget for this court needs to be given a clear eye.