Minimum wage bill overdue!

Wednesday 20th February 2019, was a great day for workers. On this day, Parliament of Uganda passed the Minimum Wage Bill (MWB), whose primary

Wednesday 20th February 2019, was a great day for workers. On this day, Parliament of Uganda passed the Minimum Wage Bill (MWB), whose primary objectives were to set a mechanism for the determination of minimum wage that is fair to both the employees and employers in respect to different categories of employment and the specific conditions of the respective workplaces.

However, a year later, the President has never assented to the bill by appending his signature to make it become into law. To get a good analysis of the law, visit this link KATS Advocates. Below is a brief extract from the said article with respect to offences:

Offences and civil remedies:

Failure to pay a fixed minimum wage is a criminal offence punishable with a fine of UGX 10,000,000 or imprisonment for up to 3 years or both, for each offence in addition to the fact that the minimum wage is taken to be the true wage, so that the employer would then be indebted to the employee in the amount of the difference (between the minimum wage and the lower wage paid) as unpaid wages.

Failure to maintain proper records of an agreed-upon minimum wage, wage sheets, contracts, records of payments and other records is an offence for which an employer will, upon conviction be liable to pay a fine of UGX 4,000,000 or imprisonment for up to 12 months or both.

Obstruction of a labour officer, while he/she is investigating the employer’s compliance with the law, is an offence for which an employer will, upon conviction be liable to pay a fine of UGX 500,000.

Making false entries or records relating to wages and payment of a minimum wage is an offence for which an employer will, upon conviction be liable to pay a fine of UGX 4,000,000 or imprisonment for up to 12 months or both.

Any agreement that contradicts the Bill will be void in as far as it contradicts the Bill.”

Follow the link to read more about the Bill. It is a great improvement to the existing labour laws in Uganda. I appeal to the President to assent to it, and in case of any challenges, an amendment could do later.

Unemployment in Uganda is high. That is a fact. So many job seekers are chasing so few jobs. This is the reason the minimum wage bill is needed urgently. So many people willing to work below the minimum wage without complaining and that is why the government must come in to help. Absence of the minimum wage benefits the industrialists who pay little for the critical resource of the country– human capital.

And if you care to investigate, some people in factories, farmlands and other companies work in very poor conditions and are excessively exploited. You don’t need to look far to see the exploitation of workers in action.

Just decree all factories in the country to account for ALL workers it employs. You would be surprised to find that over 60% of the casuals are not on the payroll of any kind, and about 20% of the white colour class are missing on the payroll. That is lost taxes, social protection for the workers and the on-going phycological torture of job insecurity. These are the issues the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development of Uganda (GLSDoU), must take a keen interest. And this requires surprise audits to the company premises/factories to hold the leadership account for their capital resources. The tendency of the Labour affairs office to wait for staff to complain is unfortunate since many exploited employees think it is a favour to even find a job. So, they instead keep quiet in their exploitation. In the minimum wage bill provides for the GLSDoU Minister to appoint a Wages Board, to set minimum wages for the respective industries annually.

Enforcing set laws is the best competitive equalizer. No one wants to consume products from factories where people work in slave-like conditions, which is exploitative. Click To Tweet

As we set our eye on Vision 2040, and Medium Development Plan Three (MDP III), the government must prioritize the human capital of the country – the #1 most critical asset and protect it from any exploitation. This shall provide the impetus to grow.  We know the jobs are few.  But this does not mean that people should not be protected at the place of work.

If you meet the President, His Excellency Y.K. Museveni, do not forget to ask him to listen to the voice of the people which comes through the Parliament: sign the Minimum Wage Bill asap.

For God and My Country.

Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, 2020. All rights reserved

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