By PLATFORM FOR LABOUR ACTION
Recently, > Uganda celebrated the International Labour Day in Rubaare Town Council Ntugagmo District under the theme, Working with the Youth: Addressing the employment challenge’ On this important day, the president of the republic of Uganda H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni emphasized service delivery as one of the 5 key ways through which Uganda can acquire employment.
In Uganda today, 6 million women and girls have acquired employment through rendering services as domestic workers to private households .Domestic workers to private households. Domestic work is mainly concentrated in urban areas with a minority rural petty bourgeoisie employing domestic workers.
The ready demand for labour in Uganda is a key pull factor into domestic work. This is because as more women get involved in the labour market, the need for substitute labour to assume the women’s role in the household becomes indisputable. To therefore enable women take up paid employment outside the home, and balance their family and work, they have been freed from their household responsibility through hiring the services of a domestic worker. This has enabled skilled educated women and men attain good employment due to the fact that domestic workers take care of their households.
However, bearing in mind this big role that domestic workers play, there is need to ensure their protection from exploitation by the law. Findings of the latest PLA study on Rights and Better Livelihoods for Women and Girls Domestic workers have minimally benefitted from Uganda’s legal provisions and are barely aware of their extension.
v 82% of domestic workers are not aware of their rights
v 88%of the employers of domstic workers are not aware of the rights of their employees.
v None or late payment of wages to the domestic workers, is big challenge affecting their employment. PLA study indicates that 78% of domestic workers are exploited at the work place with 28% not paid their wages.
v According to PLA study on adult domestic workers aspired to set up a personal business. However, they lack capital and entrepreneurial skills to sustain their businesses.
v As a country, our minimum wage is obsolete as it has not been revised since 1984. It puts the minimum wage at 6000/= which makes the domestic workers vulnerable to exploitation. It is partly due to lack of minimum wage that domestic workers remain under paid at work place.
v PLA studies indicate that in terms of payment of domestic workers 44.4% earn between 10,000/= and 20,000/= and 30,000/= the amount that cannot enable them fulfill their basic needs
v Domestic workers also lack job securities and are excluded from social protection that is a fundamental human right. One wonders how they will survive at the time when they will not be strong enough to work
v There is lack of special attention to domestic workers in the employment Law.
The purpose of recognizing domestic workers in the labour sector and protecting them from exploitation, there is great need for development of a specific legislation that adopts the provision of human rights instruments promoting and protecting domestic workers from exploitation and abuse.
Basing from the above principle Platform for Labour Action therefore calls upon the government of Uganda and the members of parliament to:
i. Ratify the International Labour Organization Convention (ILO), Convention no. 189 concerning Decent for Domestic Workers, 16th June 2011, and PRNo.15A. This Convention sets out measures to ensure the effective promotion and protection of all domestic workers. If Uganda ratifies this convention, it will mean that as a country shall put in place measures to promote and realize the fundamental principles and rights at work for domestic workers from exploitation at the work place, a missing gap in our legislations.
ii. Urgently establish the minimum Wage since the absence of such minimum wage has led to social injustices and exploitation of domestic workers. The current minimum wage of 6000/= Uganda shillings was st up in 1984 by Statutory Instrument No.34/1984. This Law is outdated and does not address the current needs of workers, female domestic workers inclusive.
iii. We also call upon all employers of domestic workers to realize that domestic workers play a critical role in enabling them balance their work and family life through managing the households while the employers are at work. Employers should therefore treat their domestic workers with respect and dignity and should know that domestic workers are workers like any other who should not be discriminated and should be paid their wages in time.
iv. Given the number of poverty reduction programmes on going in Uganda, the government should support domestic workers to start up income generating activities. This will be critical in addressing the unemployment challenges.
ABOUT PLATFORM FOR LABOUR ACTION
PLA is an NGO which promotes and protects the rights of vulnerable and marginalized workers through empowerment of communities and individuals in Uganda. PLA further undertakes activities on child labour, HIV/AIDS prevention amongst informal sector workers, research, information and documentation.