KAMPALA – Lawmakers want government to develop favourable policies aimed at addressing the plight of Ugandans whose livelihoods have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The call was made following a statement presented by the Minister of state for Labour, Hon Peace Mutuuzo ahead of the International Labour Day celebrations day on 01 May 2021.
Mutuuzo said that the day will be celebrated scientifically at State House Entebbe under the theme, ‘Enhancing innovation for increased employment creation and labour productivity: A sustainable covid-19 response’
She said that the measures taken in Uganda and around the world to control covid-19 have posed serious challenges to majority of the businesses in Uganda.
“The negative impact of covid-19 has manifested in several ways including termination of workers, non-payment of wages and reduction of wages among others,” she said.
The Minister said it is critical to adopt innovations critical to job creation and enhancement of labour productivity.
Kassanda North MP, Hon. Patrick Nsamba challenged government to make a pronouncement on policies that have been developed to address unemployment created by Covid-19.
“There is a big number of people unemployed because of Covid; there is a big group of people who were running their businesses but are no longer in business,” he said.
Hon. Hellen Asamo (NRM, PWD Eastern) reported that the labourers who have been affected the most by the pandemic are the vulnerable groups including women and people with disabilities saying that they were the first to lose their jobs.
“The Minimum Wage Bill and the Local Content Bill were returned and these affect the labourers. I think as we celebrate Labour Day, we should give the labourers these two laws as a gift,” said Asamo.
The Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Betty Aol Ocan asked government to focus on why the minimum wage law is not being used to address the exploitation of workers.
“It is very easy to be innovative and create jobs but it is also very easy for these job creators to exploit the people if we do not have regulations to protect the vulnerable people,” she said.
Hon. Idah Nantaba (NRM, Kayunga District) asked the Ministry of Gender to follow up and address the increased child labour as a result of the pandemic.
“As we celebrate the Labour Day, this parliament should know that there are children being employed in sugar plantations. I request the minister to address these labour issues; let her be reminded that children are not in school and are exposed to exploitation,” said Nantaba.
Hon. Violet Akurut (NRM, Katakwi District) said that the government should institute stringent polices to shield Ugandans who are taken to the Middle East under externalization of labour.
“Our girls out there are distressed. The terms of reference they are given before they travel are different from the work they are given and we are told that their passports are withdrawn from them,” Akurut said adding that, ’some of them have sought refuge in our missions’.