Hoima – Workers’ councilors have been tasked to familiarise themselves with labor laws if they are to effectively execute their duties.
The call was made by Workers’ Member of Parliament Arinaitwe Rwakajara while engaging representatives of workers for Hoima district, Hoima City, and Kikube district in a meeting held in Hoima City on Saturday.
He said the only way the councilors will be able to defend the worker’s rights is by studying and understanding the various workers’ acts in the country. These include the employment act, labour unions act, worker’s compensation act, and the disputes settlement act.
“We have good laws in place that are supposed to protect workers. The only problem we have is implementation and this is because there’s no political will to confront the employers and protect the workers. I suggest that you read these laws, understand them, and use them as a weapon,” said the MP who spearheaded the idea of having councilors at district and city levels.
During the meeting, the councilors cited the lack of induction as the major challenge hindering their work.
“Ever since we were elected as worker’s representatives, we have never had an induction. We don’t know what we are supposed to do. In case of anything where do we run to? We are totally green,” said Hellen Mulumba the worker’s councillor in Hoima district.
Patrick Mugabo the Hoima City workers’ councillor noted that their senior officers at local governments too need to be brought on board as far as workers’ rights are concerned.
“It’s not only us who aren’t aware of the workers’ movements even the labour officers, CAOs, and town clerks aren’t and so they also need to be involved to understand what workers’ unions are all about. It’s the same issue we are facing while dealing with employers. whenever you try to engage their workers, they think the next thing they are expecting is a strike with workers’ demanding better pay or other rights. I think we still have a lot of work to do,” said Mugabo
They also noted a concern about not being recognized in the council as other interest groups due to being new on board.
Meanwhile, the councilors noted one of the issues affecting workers in Bunyoro is the mismanagement of payroll which leads many staff at the districts to go for months without pay.
MP Rwakajara promised to lobby for training for the councilors and other stakeholders to be able to understand their roles better.
“We are going to arrange training to make sure that these councilors as they represent workers at the district and City councils are empowered, they know what to do and they have all the laws at their fingertips. We want to champion this cause to make sure that the worker’s representatives are up to date,” said MP Rwakajara
While speaking to our reporter, the MP noted his ongoing countrywide engagements with workers’ councilors are aimed at ascertaining challenges affecting workers and finding ways how to address them.