Why Museveni rejected Rwakajara’s Minimum Wage bill
President Yoweri Museveni rejected signing the Minimum Wage Bill 2015 that was approved by Parliament in February this year due to many inconsistencies with the current laws.
The Minimum Wages Bill, 2018 moved by Worker’s Member of Parliament (MP) Hon Arinaitwe Rwakajara 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.
But it has now emerged Gender, Labour and Social Development Minister Hon Hajat Janat Mukwaya advised President Museveni not to sign the Minimum Wage bill.
President Museveni wrote to Speaker of Parliament Rt Hon Rebecca Kadaga on August 21, 2019 rejecting the Bill. Speaker Kadaga communicated the President’s decision on August 27, 2019 plenary session saying the President declined to assent to the bill following advice from the Attorney General Hon William Byaruhanga.
"As Parliament we shall take a decision on the President’s letter and the Bill at a later stage since it had been rejected," she said. Director for Labour at Gender, Labour and Social Development Ministry Hon Martin Wandera said in the first place they did not support the bill because their advise as a Ministry was quashed by Parliament.
He said the current Minimum Wages Advisory Act is sufficient enough and the Arinaitwe Rwakajara Bill does not introduce anything new. Hon Wandera said the bill does not provide for fixing of Minimum Wage through collective bargaining and who is authorized to fix the wages.
“Section 13, of the current law has provision of setting minimum wage through collective bargaining", he said. Hon Wandera said the bill undermines the principle of collective bargaining provided for in article 40 (3) of the constitution of Uganda.
By failing to provide for the procedure of issuing a wage regulation order and the person supposed to issue it, the bill makes impossible to issue a wage regulation order. "It is therefore superfluous for the bill to require compliance with or panelize any person for failure to comply with a wage regulation order that cannot exist under the provisions of the bill," he said. Cabinet considered the report and has requested the Ministry to enrich the report with the provision of sector specific minimum wages and job creation options.
National of Trade Unions (NOTU) Chairman General Mr Usher Wilson Owere said as workers they see no reason for voting President Museveni in the 2021 elections.
He said workers have been supporting the NRM government for a long time but it has failed to give workers a Minimum Wage. " Why should we vote NRM government in 2021 if it has failed to help workers," he said.
Mr Owere said they are going back to lobby international Labour Organisation (ILO) and International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), to impose sanctions on Uganda for flouting ILO conventions.
But Workers MP Hon Arinaitwe Rwakajara lashed at Gender and Labour Ministry officials for being sabotauers and anti - workers. “The spirit with which Labour Ministry officials exhibited shows they do not serve workers interests. "We shall not despair but would continue to pursue a Minimum Wage at all levels," he said.
The bill was moved by Worker’s MP Arinaitwe Rwakajara, to repeal the Minimum Wages Advisory Board Act which does not provide for an employee-employer led, and sector based minimum wage determination.