Uganda: Govt's rationale that lack of minimum wage will attract investors is "absurd", says columnist

Author: Harold Acemah, Daily Monitor (Uganda), Published on: 9 September 2019

"Workers deserve minimum wage as a fundamental right"

The usually docile and rubber stamp Parliament of Uganda held a stormy debate which almost erupted in an uproar on August 27 over the question of minimum wage for the gallant, but grossly exploited workers of Uganda. I would like to congratulate MPs on both sides of the political divide for joining hands and for standing up boldly to champion a fundamental right of the workers of Uganda. According to a story published in Daily Monitor of August 28 titled, “Museveni rejects minimum wage law,” Sabalwanyi has adamantly refused to sign the Minimum Wage Bill, 2015, which Parliament passed in February this year because, according to the big man, the issues which the Bill seeks to address are already adequately covered by the Minimum Wages Advisory Boards and Wages Council Act. The chairperson of the National Organisation of Trade Unions (NOTU), Mr Usher Wilson Owere, has openly disagreed with Sabalwanyi and is quoted by Daily Monitor saying that there is currently no law on minimum wage. I am inclined to believe Owere rather than those who have a tendency to tell the truth only occasionally and moreover by accident.

The NRM regime has argued unconvincingly that lack of minimum wage in Uganda will somehow attract foreign investment to our country. I don’t know of any serious country which buys this absurd, false and ridiculous argument, certainly not our development partners. Only fake investors would be impressed by a country which boasts about the fact that its workers do not enjoy legal protection provided by minimum wage and are left at the mercy of unscrupulous foreign investors and dishonest local traders.I hardly need to remind Ugandans that the primary duty, obligation and responsibility of any government, especially of a democracy like Uganda, is to defend the interests of its citizens, not those of foreign investors.

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