24 February 2013

Uganda: Minimum Wage Bill 2013 in Offing

Photo: allAfrica.com
Street in Kampala, Uganda.

Three MPs have drafted a Members Private Bill 2013, aimed at putting in place minimum wages for workers in Uganda. The MPs are: Stephen Arinaitwe Rwakajara (Workers), Paul Mwiru, (Jinja Municipality) and James Mbahimba (Kasese municipality).

The MPs have sought permission from Parliament to process the Bill, with hope that the first reading takes place soon.

They are also confident that after this long wait, the Government and the finance ministry will give them the certificate of financial implication to see the Minimum Wage Bill 2013 through.

The legislators said the Bill will emphasize wages for all workers set by a representative board of minimum wages. They said Uganda is the only country in East Africa that does not have the minimum wage.

There has been a public outcry for a very long time, calling upon the Government to fix the minimum wage to avoid the exploitation of workers.

Rwakajara pointed out that the 1957 Minimum Wage Advisory Board Act was never implemented and it never set up a board, although it set a minimum wage.

"The board will be representative of all sectors, including employers, workers and some specialised institutions such as Uganda Bureau of Statistics, so that the minimum wage is set based on research and clear information.

"Other institutions such as trade unions can negotiate for more pay, but the state must protect workers from exploitation," Rwakajara said.

Mwiru noted that there are many imbalances in setting up remunerations for workers in the country.

He explained that investors get free land, tax holidays and repatriate the monies back to their countries, something he said calls for fair returns to the local workers.

"To combat corruption at the work place, the workers must be paid well, workers embezzle employer's funds partly due to poor pay," he said.

Mbahimba said considering Uganda has many foreign investors, there must be a law that regulates them and looks at industrial relationship.

He added that for any public sector management and administration to be effective, there must be a benchmark which the Government has not set.

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