On this Labor Day, as we celebrate the contribution of workers to our nation’s development, we cannot ignore the plight of many workers who continue to suffer under poor working conditions. The lack of jobs in our country has forced many of our young boys and girls to seek employment as maids in the Middle East, where they face modern-day slavery and exploitation. As the Forum for Democratic Change, we condemn this practice and call for urgent action to create decent jobs for our people.
Furthermore, we cannot overlook the failure of the NRM regime to address the issue of minimum wage. Mr. Museveni’s refusal to assent into law the Minimum Wage Bill, 2015, which was passed by Parliament in February 2019, is a clear indication of his lack of concern for the welfare of workers in our country.
He argued that the issues addressed in the bill were already covered by the Minimum Wages Advisory Boards and Wages Councils Act of October 17, 1957, which was enacted during the colonial era.
The NRM regime further argued that having a minimum wage in place will scare away investors.
We believe that the primary duty, obligation, and responsibility of any government is to defend the interests of its citizens. While foreign investment can be beneficial to a country’s economy, it should not come at the expense of the welfare of its citizens, including fair and just wages for workers.
We are also concerned with how the NRM regime has been weakening trade unions and suppressing efforts by workers to demand fairness which is a violation of their rights and undermines the principles of democracy and social justice.
The recent case of science teachers’ salaries being increased while their arts counterparts receive lower salaries is a clear indication of unfair treatment and discrimination in the workplace.
The suppression of the efforts of the National Teachers Union (NATU) to demand fairness for all teachers, regardless of their subject areas by Mr. Museveni and his wife is unacceptable and goes against the principles of democracy and social justice.
High levels of corruption and nepotism promoted by the NRM regime are unacceptable and detrimental to Uganda’s development. It has been Mr. Museveni’s practice to employ his friends and relatives for positions of power since he captured power from Ugandans.
We believe that corruption and nepotism have no place in Uganda’s development. We must work together to ensure that the rights of workers are protected, and their contributions to our nation’s development are recognized and valued.
As we celebrate Labor Day, let us remember that the fight for workers’ rights is an ongoing struggle that requires collective action from all of us. We must stand together to demand better working conditions, fair wages, and an end to modern-day slavery and exploitation.
Thank you, and Happy Labor Day!
ENG. PATRICK OBOI AMURIAT