NAKASERO – Uganda’s efforts to set a minimum wage have hit a snag after President Yoweri Museveni declined to assent to the Minimum Wages Bill, 2018 and sent it back to Parliament.
Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga on Tuesday, August 27, told plenary that the President has written to her indicating that following advice from the Attorney General William Byaruhanga, he could not sign the Bill into law since it was not any different from the Wages Council Act.
Ms Kadaga said Mr Museveni said there are no gaps in the Minimum Wages Advisory Board and the Wages Council Act that the Bill seeks to cure. He argues that the current law is adequate and enforceable.
The Bill, which was in February passed by parliament, sought to empower the Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development to appoint a Minimum wages Board to fix all minimum wages for various sectors. The Bill also mandated the Minister to announce the minimum wages annually.
According to his letter dated 21st August 2019 addressed to Speaker of Parliament, the President rejected the bill and said that Cabinet still awaits a report from the Ministry of Gender on the implications of fixing a minimum wage to investment and the economy to enable them make an informed decision.
However, Arua Municipality MP Kassiano Wadri expressed displeasure with the President’s letter which refers to advice given by the Attorney General.
He wondered why the Attorney General had not given his opinion to parliament before the Bill could be passed an argument that received the support of the Speaker.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) defines a minimum wage as the minimum sum of money payable to a worker for work performed or services rendered within a given period to cover the minimum needs of the worker, his or her family, in light of national economic and social conditions.
The Bill was presented to parliament by a private member Arinaitwe Rwakajara, the Workers MP and considered by Parliament’s Gender Committee. Rwakajara was recently quoted saying that his Bill was not necessarily mean higher salaries for workers but rather creation of harmony between employers and employees.