KAMPALA – Personal and Research Assistants to Legislators in the 10th Parliament have pleaded with Speaker Rebecca Kadaga to look into their financial affairs saying the MPs are very exploitative with many going for months without pay.
Through their body Uganda Parliamentarians Personal and Research Assistants Association, they want Parliament to pick a leaf from Kenya where personal assistants are paid from Parliament and put an end to their disguised employment.
The association composed of over 150 members on Monday 10 petitioned the Speaker praying that they be incorporated into a formal working system so that they can add more value on the work of MPs, but also avoid conflicts related to salary and rights of Personal assistants.
Among the issues raised was the sexual exploitation among the female political assistants who accused their bosses of making sexual demands and failure to accept attracts firing.
In their petition read by the interim Chairperson of the Association, Festo Kajura noted that there is limited consideration of the assistants as being part of the parliamentary family, they have no job security and can be easily terminated, but also they have unpredicted lunch, transport and remuneration forcing several of them to suffer in Parliament.
He said that personal assistants need and desire to be recognized by Parliament Commission and clearly prescribe the parameters by which they should operate through amendment of the Parliament Administrations Act as well as the need for incorporation of personal and research assistants into a formal working system Parliament’s.
He explained: “We don’t have job security, we have unpredictable lunch, transport and remunerations because on average a Personal Assistant earns between Shs300,000 to Shs350,000 per month which can’t facilitate the work of the Personal Assistant.”
The MPs personal assistants also revealed that there is a limited consideration in Parliament events with their group considered as flukes, despite playing an important role in the country and the matter is worsened by instant termination of employment on assumption that personal assistants are going to contest against them or rally with rivals.
Kajura added; “The purpose is to find a way of engaging personal assistants into a formal way to the Parliament of Uganda and help them out of disguised employment and boost their work. The money we get is too little but we don’t see the subsequent of the work with do the money paid.
According to Kajura, There is limited growth of personal assistants, threats of termination of their contracts by MPs who think the Personal Assistants might contest against them, but also in case of high political temperature, the assistants are targeted with the aim of weakening an MP.
Kajura called for the Speaker who heads the Parliamentary Commission to consider the model of Kenya where MPs personal assistants are paid salary but also encourage parliament to tap into the qualified group of personal assistants.
The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga on her part says Personal assistants need to be part of the system, and she will benchmark on the other parliaments and see if they can be integrated into the Parliamentary system.
She says they will start with access cards for the Personal Assistants who have been relying on the mercy of security and said there is need to study especially how to pay the assistants who are of different qualifications.