Ugandans on Friday, 1 May, 2020 celebrated International Labour Day for the first time “scientifically” with this year’s venue taking place at State House in Entebbe.
Under the theme: “Improved Access to Financial Services for Employment Creation” – Guest of Honour, President Museveni in a televised speech warned employers against laying-off workers during this pandemic.
“Laying off workers during this crisis is not a good idea especially because things are going to improve,” he added.
“Instead, I would suggest that these workers are sent on leave and recalled when the situation normalizes. I am very optimistic we are going to be stronger after this crisis,” the president advised.
While government has done a commendable job in trying to control the countrywide spread of the novel coronavirus, there has been, and during this crisis cries from section of government workers over little or delayed pay.
In her International Labour Day message to Ugandans and to government, Uganda Peoples’ Congress [UPC] party says politicians have had no time to engage on labour or trade unionists leaders.
“As we mark International Labour Day that is celebrated annually on 1st May, Uganda People’s Congress is concerned with the global atmosphere for workers and their families amidst COVID 19 Pandemic! This has serious implications for employers and employees. The Politicians have had no time to engage labour or trade unionists leaders. This means the workers across Uganda, Africa and the World are in very hard and unpredictable situation as highlighted below,” Mr Okae Lawrence, UPC national chairman said, in a press release.
The Jimmy Akena led UPC party, gave highlights on five key issues as below.
1. World over, this day is annually celebrated with pomp and workers, normally hope for better rewards as regards their labour, with improved welfare and work conditions! But this year, it will not! There is going to be a sombre mood, hopes dashed and sadness on the workers’ faces throughout the world! The rampaging Corona Virus with so far victims and casualties in all continents has so far caused disproportionate and tangible negative effects to the Governments, life styles, daily lives to all communities worldwide!
2. Today’s Labour Day on account of COVID-19, brings all nations on their knees looking for cure, divine intervention and hope that the vaccine comes in handy! However, amidst the ogre, something odd seems to be unfolding unto the workers in Uganda! Upon the onset of the Pandemic Government took a quick decision and defined intervention measures including developing budgetary provision to cater for this Pandemic! This is good. It did develop a budget of over 300 billion! Government asked for supplementary budget and Parliament passed it, Government made appeals and international community led by European Union stood in handy with some handsome grant, local and international businessmen have contributed, manufacturing and local business concerns and individuals of good will have also contributed quite substantially!
3. We also know Government has been at its best in handling this Pandemic and there is general hope that its impact may not be as destructive as was anticipated with current vigilance and awareness enhanced!
4. In this respect therefore, UPC advises Government and all Employers that it would be important first to reflect, evaluate and do the maths prudently so as to know gaps if any available before arbitrarily slapping a wage cut of a worker who even as of now has not received any relief from the burden currently facing them!
5. The Party urges Employers to Respect and Value WORKERS! It’s important to tread carefully as regards wage earnings of workers at this very material time when we are faced with this pandemic! This is the best period to give support and show love to workers since they are the back bone of our economy.
“Our strength is rooted in among other things workers. We therefore dedicate this Labour Day to all health workers who are at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr Okae, added.