The private members’ Bill passed by Parliament seeks to provide for the determination of a minimum wage based on the different sectors of the economy.
The Bill was championed by Arinaitwe Rwakajara and other workers leaders.
Mr Wilson Usher Owere, the chairperson of National Organisation of Trade Unions, yesterday praised Parliament for passing the Bill and urged the President to sign it into law. When the Bill came for second and third reading, many legislators warmly received the and they marketed it as a panacea to exploitation of vulnerable workers.
The Bill provides that the Gender, Labour and Social Development minister will appoint a minimum wage board to fix a minimum wage.
The Bill passed by Parliament will, however, become law after the President has assented to it. Should the President, who has previously complained that such a law in place would scare away investors, refuse to sign it, the Bill will revert to Parliament for further scrutiny.
Hon Paul Mwiru (FDC, Jinja Municipality East) said that people work for so little yet they have to survive.
“People are left in the vicious cycle of poverty because they consume all they earn. Someone gets as little as shs 2,000 a day yet they have to meet the high standards of living,” he said.
Mwiru added that poor pay tempts people into seeking other wrong means of earning extra.
“Under such scenario, people opt to be corrupt, cheat, embezzle and steal so that they can make ends meet,” he added.
Hon. Jimmy Akena (UPC, Lira Municipality) said that it was government considers the plight of the workers.
“I know someone who had to work day and night as a security guard to make ends meet leaving them with no life outside work. These are the people that need the protection of such a Bill,” he said.
He also added that there is need to boost the trade unions to support workers and improve their ability to bargain for better pay.
“Paying someone so little to the point of exploitation means it is invalid for us to say we are developing because the rate of earning is very poor,” Akena said.