1 January 2018

Uganda: Vote On Age Limit Bill Splits Trade Unions

Photo: The Observer
Uganda Speaker Rebecca Kadega age limit bill in Parliament

Kampala — Four Labour Unions have questioned the relevance of workers' MP slots in Parliament following what they term as a flawed consultative process in the just concluded presidential age limit debate.

The unions representing civil servants and employees in public universities, food and beverages, textile and leather sectors, claim that whereas their parliamentary representatives were supposed to consult the electoral colleges which voted them, they instead consulted NRM members who voted for the removal of the presidential age limit.

"We have 42 labour unions, each with 11 executive members who should have been consulted, but none of the MPs consulted the electoral colleges which voted them to office," said Mr Milton Turyareeba, the chairman of the Confederation of Free Trade Unions (COFTU).

"I went around the country consulting voters; I met over one million of them and they voted against the removal of the age limit, that is why I voted against it, if they are not satisfied, then I can vote otherwise," Mr Turyareeba said.

This contradicts the statement by his boss, Mr Sam Lyomoki, one of the workers' representatives, who claimed to have consulted more than one million workers across the country and said they all supported the removal of the presidential age limit.

Ms Margaret Rwabashaija, who is among the four workers' MPs who voted in favour of the removal of the age limit, said they had no financial capacity to convene the electoral colleges and resorted to consulting market vendors, construction workers and railway employees who told them to vote in favour of the removal of the age limit.

"You ask the Electoral Commission how much they always spend in convening the Electoral College. You need more than Shs1 billion," she said.

Asked whether the procedures were followed in the consultations, Mr Wilson Owere, another workers' MP, said he is "too busy" fighting for the minimum wage and did not want to be diverted by politics of the age limit Bill.

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