New labour markets for post covid – 19 recovery

By  Hon. Charles Bakkabulindi.

The emerging challenges on the labour market and the scourge of Covid-19 pandemic that is straining Labour unions from offering protection to a bigger number of workers.   

Jobs that had been increasingly created within the informal sector and private sector that employs the bulk of workers, has been adversely affected, and the bulk of workers remain largely un – unionized.

But despite the effects of Covid-19 pandemic the most legitimate voice while promoting and defending workers’ rights, is through trade unionism.

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the unemployment rate increased, governments and business leaders must act now to shape a new labour market that supports workers to thrive in the jobs of tomorrow.

There is no time to waste to put in place comprehensive policies to avoid creating a lost generation.

As the pandemic continues to unfold, governments must continue putting in place urgent  recoverage measures.

This calls for  income-protection schemes more responsive to the changing situations of people, promote adequate occupational safety and health in all workplaces to ensure a safe return to work, and enhance social protection for those workers who are least covered such as ‘gig work’ and those in informal employment.

At the same time, government must lay the foundations for a more resilient and inclusive recovery, and governments must also turn their attention to preparing workers and re-allocating talent to new, growth jobs and professions in the medium-term.

Government policies can support this agenda with retraining and job creation through subsidies, targeted tax cuts, and investment programs, while social protection provisions can be reshaped to ensure better coverage of workers in non-standard forms of employment.

Public and private employment services will also need to be expanded to support unprecedented numbers of jobseekers in their reskilling and job transition from declining occupations to emerging or growing occupations.

Employers’ commitments to quality work, fair wage practices and merit-based management practices can further incentivize and complement the learning agenda. Workers whose jobs are at high risk of automation remain high less likely to be in low-risk jobs.

The crisis has not affected everyone equally,. Women, youth, ethnic minorities and low-income workers are among those hit hardest. Young people have faced disruption of planned assessment and university closures.

In addition, as hiring has slowed, young people entering the labour market are facing a reduction in entry-level opportunities, internships and apprenticeships. Top earning workers have been able to work from home, while low-earning workers have less opportunity to do so.

Both public and private sector efforts must ensure that as we rebuild, the post-pandemic labour market embeds justice and fairness for all segments of society.

Under the scourge of Covid-19 pandemic Ugandan workers continue to work under pathetic conditions with no employment contracts signed, no appointment letters issued, and are over worked, exploited and paid peanuts.

Most employers have continued to exploit workers while hiding under the cover of seeking investment protection for creating jobs for Ugandans There is no time to waste to put in place comprehensive policies to avoid creating a lost generation■

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