Annual National Labour Convetion launched as Uganda gears up for Labour day

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Minister for Gender, Labour, and Social Development, Hon. Betty Amongi, has underscored the plight of Ugandan workers especially those in the informal sector and upcountry.

This was during the launch of the 2nd Annual National Labour Convention and Expo at Mestil Hotel in Kampala. 

In her speech, Hon. Amongi said accessing the industrial court solely in Kampala poses a challenge for those in distant districts. The minister urged expansion for equitable justice.

As International Labour Day nears, attention shifts to Fort Portal for discussions on fair access to legal recourse.

This year, The Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development (MGLSD) is collaborating with the Uganda Law Society (ULS) and the Industrial Court to organize the 2nd Annual National Labour National Labour Convention. This a high impact event that brings together key stakeholders to explore strategies for fostering a more equitable and inclusive work environment for all.

Hon. Amongi, Minister of Gender, Labour, and Social Development said: “I want to recognize that Labour Justice traces its route to the 18th century when many workers in the USA and developed countries recognized the need to fight for their rights because at that time the conditions for work were very bad.”

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She emphasized on the need to protect the informal sector which Carrie’s the majority of Ugandan jobs.

“In Uganda, the Labour Justice Law focuses more on formal employment and yet according to the statistics, the majority of Ugandans are in the informal sector. 

We need to look at ways of protecting the rights of the workers in the informal sectors,” she empathized.

The Permanent Secretary Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Mr. Aggrey Kibenge echoed the minister’s key points. He said: “Labour justice encompasses a wide range of rights and protection for workers. It involves ensuring fair wages, reasonable working hours, safe working conditions, non-discrimination and freedom from exploitation.”

Labour day is celebrated every 1st of May.

Here’s minister Among’s full speech: 

“Hon Ministers present here,

Representative of His Excellency the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium,

Hon. Justice of the Employment and Labour Relations Court of Kenya

And all various dignitaries and invited guests present in your different capacities, all protocol observed.

I am honored to address you and the country at large, this 24th Day of April 2024, when key stakeholders of labour and employment matters convene to discuss important matters related to access to labour justice and its impact on the economy. I also note that this is the final week of preparations for the commemoration of the International Labour Day on 1st May 2024. 

First and foremost, I wish to welcome all of you, attending virtually and physically, to the 2nd Annual Labour Convention 2024. As can be seen in the detailed programme for the day, this convention will not only deliberate on matters of labour justice but also handle other important matters related to decent work and employment promotion, including how to promote diversity, equity, inclusion and justice. 

Before I make my remarks, allow me to invite us all to take a moment of silence to remember the late Col. (Rtd.) Charles Okello Engola, my colleague, good friend and former Member of Parliament for Oyam North. He was the Minister of State for Labour, Employment and Industrial Relations at the time of his demise. I remember that the preparations for the commemoration of the International Labour Day in Namutumba and indeed the 1st Annual Labour Conference in 2023 was his final formal assignment (Let us now observe a moment of silence for the Late).

As we go through discussions during this convention, we should remain focused on the Government of Uganda Agenda for securing the future of Ugandans through job creation and inclusive development. It is a known fact that disputes and other challenges in employment relations like inadequate social protection, injuries and accidents, unfair dismissal, unpaid wages and unsafe working conditions do not only violate workers’ rights but also harm productivity and overall economic performance of the economy. This is because workers and employers make a big contribution to economic growth. 

I wish to assure you that the NRM Government understands that productive employment and decent work for all, particularly young people and women, is the most effective route out of poverty. This, therefore, means that conditions such as the ones listed below, which affect productive and decent employment, should not be allowed to continue without appropriate steps since they greatly reduce our journey towards productive employment and decent work:

i). Inadequate protection of workers at work, 

ii). Non-deduction and non- remittance of social security contributions for workers,

iii). Failure to compensate workers who get injured or incur scheduled diseases in the course of employment,

iv). Non-fulfilment and failure to honour obligations under the contract of services,

v). Unfair conditions of work for persons with disabilities,

vi). Delays to resolve or conclude labour disputes,

With all the successes Government has registered in providing the enabling environment for employment creation and job rich growth, we need to see improvements in delivery of labour justice to persons affected in employment relations. This also means that all matters connected with unemployment and employment relations are critical and need to be addressed in a way that can promote good industrial relations.

Therefore, I am looking forward to receiving recommendations and suggestions from experts I see on the programmes of the convention to address the salient matters affecting access to labour justice and employment creation in this country.  

As the Ministry responsible for Labour and Employment matters in the Country we have noted the issues related to the capacity of the institutions delivering labour justice in this country. I want to inform you that the Ministry plans to strengthen the capacity of, not only the Labour Offices but also, the Industrial Court to enable speedy conclusion of the employment relations dispute and reduction of the case backlog. We have an interface with H.E the President next week at the national event for commemoration of the International Labour Day in Fort portal City to continue with the discussions on this matter with all of you. 

Furthermore, we are implementing a number of programmes that will ultimately promote employment creation for Ugandans. A lot has also been disseminated to you by the Ministry team about the key interventions for promotion of job creation and decent employment in this country. I want to ask all of you to support all the Government flagship programmes that are aiming at improving the incomes and lives of Ugandans. 

I therefore wish to thank H.E the President for the leadership that has improved on the enabling environment for decent work and job rich growth. I thank the entire team that has organized and partners who collaborated with Government to have a successful convention, including all the speakers and the audience.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is therefore my privilege to declare the 2nd Annual Labour Convention 2024 officially open. 

I thank you all.”

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