Some casual labourers in Kabarole district have beaten the odds to survive despite the harsh conditions they are operating in.
Casual workers are workers with no permanent or formal employment and will do any assigned task to earn a minimal amount of cash. They don’t have job security and can be sacked anytime. Some of the workers have however managed to make it through the harsh environment to improve on their standards of living and income.
Diana Kemigisa aged 29, does several odd jobs everyday like cooking food in restaurants, cleaning offices and some streets of Fort Portal, among others.
Kemigisa says that she earns 30,000 shillings every day from the odd jobs, which has helped her meet basic necessities at home and educate her son in nursery school.
Kemigisa, who started doing odd jobs three years ago after the death of her parents, says she saves part of the money and hopes to start her own restaurant in the near future.
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However, despite the odd jobs she is doing, Kemigisa says that as a casual worker she faces challenges which include employers flouting the labor laws like the Occupational Safety and Health Act 2006, which mandates employers to provide safety gear like gloves for workers. Some of the workers end up being exposed to dust and sharp objects.
She says that she has no option but continue working, since it’s her source of income.
Steven Kumaraki, a casual laborer in Fort Portal, says he lost his permanent job two years ago and has since been doing casual work like fixing broken water pipes and repairing vehicles.
Kumaraki says he doesn’t regret being a causal worker because he earns 40,000 shillings everyday and he is sure of getting a meal. Kumaraki says that he has managed to construct a two bed-roomed house and pay school fees for his two siblings.
He also says he has been able to acquire some skills in vehicle mechanics.
Kumaraki however says that at some places of work like in garages, there are no safety gears and some clients don’t pay on time.
Monday Christopher, the Kabarole District Labour Officer, says that although casual workers aren’t permanent staff, they are sensitizing them to demand for their labour rights.
Monday says that the labour department receives several cases of casual workers who have been injured while on duty. He says that employers don’t want to provide protective gears, because some of the protective gears are expensive and yet some of the workers are not permanent employees.
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On Wednesday, Uganda joined the rest of the world to celebrate the International Labour Day under the theme: “Skilling Ugandans for increased Labour Productivity: A Shared responsibility.”