June 14, 2024

MPs push for re-tabling of Minimum Wage Bill

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Legislators want to expedite the re-tabling of the Minimum Wage Bill, 2015.

The MPs said In February 2018, parliament passed the Minimum Wage Bill, 2015, which sought to set up a minimum wage determination mechanism across different sectors of the economy. The bill also sought to establish minimum wage boards by the minister, mechanisms for determining minimum wages for each sector, duties, powers and functions of the board and procedures for determining the minimum wage.

Moved by Workers MP Arinatwe Rwakajara, the bill was meant to address gaps in the current Minimum Wage Advisory Board Act by providing for employee-employer-led minimum wage determination, and sector-based minimum wage determination and application.

However, in a letter dated August 21, 2019 addressed to then speaker of parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, President Museveni rejected the entire bill and accordingly returned it. His decision not to assent to the bill followed advice from the then attorney general, William Byaruhanga.

Bugahya County MP Pius Wakabi said, “We need to bring up the issue of the minimum wage because you will find that most employees are being paid as little as Shs 100,000 a month. That is so little that somebody cannot even survive. That means that he earns less than a dollar per day.”

“We need the minimum wage for employees. The minimum somebody should earn is Shs 500,000. We have good laws, but the challenges are there. We pass laws, but they are not implemented,” he said.

Representing the state minister for Labour during the specialised training for the Parliamentary Forum on Labour, Decent Employment and Productivity in Entebbe, Sarah Opendi, said the country still grapples with the challenge of exploitation of workers in the country, especially in the private sector.

“There were efforts to have the minimum wage dealt with, but these efforts have not yielded any fruit. I hope that very soon we shall have this bill presented, of course as a private member’s bill, so that we can deal with the issue of the minimum wage to do away with the exploitation of Ugandans.”

She noted that with a minimum wage, it will then be possible to order for mandatory savings for every working Ugandan. During the same meeting, the legislators also decried a lack of supervision and the continued deployment of Ugandans in factories and other workplaces without safety gear.

Opendi claimed that authorities only carry out inspections in workplaces when there is a strike or a terrible accident where an employee has been injured.

Berivan Erbil Pamuk, a decent work and social protection expert at Enabel Belgian Development Agency, said decent work protection is aimed at preventing and protecting people against vulnerability, social exclusion, and poverty throughout their lifecycle.

“Social protection includes non-contributory schemes, contributory schemes and labour market policies from the state because it has the capacity to influence labour market integration for job seekers,” she said.

Source: The Observer Uganda

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