CHAPTER THREE: SITUATIONAL ANALYSIS
3.3 Labour Rights
The government recognizes the rights and contributions of workers to national development as such several legal and policy frameworks are in place to guarantee the right to work. Article 40 of the 1995 Constitution provides for the protection of workers’ rights, which includes the recognition of just and favourable conditions of work. The key legislation on working conditions in Uganda include the Employment Act (2006), Workers Compensation Act (2000) and the Occupational Safety and Health Act (2006), which regulate employment conditions including occupational safety and health standards, wages, working hours, leave and termination of employment.
The Government has created conducive working environment that allows for businesses to thrive. As such, businesses have become a major source of employment for Ugandans especially the youth and women.
According to UBOS (2018), overall unemployment was at 9.7% while youth unemployment stood at 40.7%. The unemployment situation has left many Ugandans especially the youth with no choice, but to accept any form of work offered to them. This has led to the growing trend of employment opportunities in business activities. However, there have also been reports of cases of human rights abuses associated with businesses operations.
Notwithstanding the progressive legal regime, there are a number of abuses experienced by especially vulnerable groups like women, people with disabilities and youth. The field findings revealed glaring gaps in labour administration in the country particularly in the business sector. Noting that whereas each district is mandated to have a labour officer, due to budgetary limitations and varying priorities at the district level, many districts do not have substantive labour officers in place. Those in place raised a concern of difficulty in executing their jobs due to under-funding to the labour functions, lack of transport to carry out routine and effective supervision and corruption, which hinders compliance to their rulings. Some of the labour officers also highlighted challenges of information asymmetry between the centre (MGLSD) and the local governments.
The consultations also revealed that women comprise of the majority of labour force in the Planta on Agriculture and informal Sectors—which still face challenges around regulatory and protective measures. Casualization of labour is also ripe within these sectors. It was further revealed that cases of occupational and safety health hazards of women in manufacturing and production industries have increased. It was also shared that workers are employed without formal contracts hence no job security as well as limited access to remedy for human rights abuses by business operations including delays or lack of compensations in case of workplace accidents. In some companies, management was not in support of their workers joining trade unions since they consider it that it affects the productivity of workers. It was also reported that employees are often exploited by companies to work for long hours and are often poorly remunerated. This was reported to be common in the planta on and construction companies. It was further established that many employers in the business sector do not comply with the laws guaranteeing labour rights.
Uganda Human Rights Commission highlighted an emerging human rights concern of trafficking of persons abroad for work. It was noted that most of the victims were women and youth. The commission also highlights that there is no clear reporting and response mechanism for those caught up in violations abroad. It was further noted that despite registration and licensing of companies to regulate this business, many fraudulent companies were not fully complying with the established guidelines thus exposing Ugandans to violations of their rights. During stakeholder consultations the issues raised include; negative impacts of externalization of labour where youth especially girls were taken to work abroad without contracts. Subsequently such victims experience abuse of rights, physical and psychological violence and lack of protection while abroad.
CHAPTER FOUR: STRATEGIES AND INTERVENTIONS STRATEGIES
OBJECTIVE 1: To strengthen institutional capacity, operations and coordination efforts of state and non-state actors for the protection and promotion of human rights in businesses.
4.1.3 Capacity building for state and non-state actors on business and human rights
iv. Strengthen the function of occupational health inspectors to monitor OSH (Occupational Safety and Health) Standards.
OBJECTIVE 2: To promote human rights compliance and accountability by business actors
4.2.2 Capacity building for business operators on human rights observance
iii. Strengthen the capacity of the human resource function in business operations in observing workers’ rights.
iv. Strengthen the capacity of Occupational Safety and Health managers and committees in businesses on human rights compliance.
4.2.3 Empower communities especially vulnerable persons to claim their rights
iii. Popularize existing labour laws and labour standards relating to Occupational Safety and Health to make them known widely.
iv. Ensure helplines are available for reporting unsafe working conditions and other labour complaints.
OBJECTIVE 5: To enhance access to remedy to victims of business-related human rights abuses and violations in business operations.
4.5.1 Strengthen access to remedy mechanisms against business-related human rights abuses and violations
- Awareness raising on workers’ rights and available remedy mechanisms for business-related human rights abuses and violations.
- Provision of government-supported legal aid services to workers, especially vulnerable groups including women, persons with disabilities, persons living with HIV and AIDS and minorities.
CHAPTER FIVE: INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK
5.4 Business entities
- Promote human rights education for their employees.
5.13 Private Sector
- Promote and disseminate the action plan to employers and employees.
vii. Sensitize employees on human rights.
Budgeted outputs in Annex I include:
- Objective 1.0 – Review and strengthen the capacity and function the probation and labour department to handle labour-related grievances
- Objective 5.0 – Sensitize workers on their rights