Many workers believe that Labour Day is reserved for the so-called highly skilled professional workers. A coffin maker like Brian Luwaga says that he only knows his labour is appreciated if a client is happy.
Ugandans of different walks of life Wednesday 1st May marked Labour Day, but most workers say they have nothing much to celebrate.
Uganda Radio Network (URN) took a simple survey to see how workers perceive Labour Day, traditionally held to promote the rights and interests of workers across the world.
URN found out that Ugandans engaged in self-employment, see Labour Day as an event for highly skilled professional workers.
Mukosi Muhammad, a mechanic at Wandegeya, argues that self-employed people cannot exercise their labour rights, since they only deal with people in search for their services.
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Brian Luwaga, a coffin maker in a workshop next to Mulago Hospital says, as a self-employed labourer, he only enjoys his right of work if a contract made with a customer is honoured.
Luwaga says that although there is a negative perception that his work depends on death, he enjoys what he does.
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For human rights lawyer Kabanda David, lack of functioning labour courts in Uganda means that workers’ rights are not secured and it becomes difficult to seek legal redress in civil courts.
Kabanda advised self-employed labourers to develop a good negotiating capacity to avoid exploitation.
Kabanda suggested that parliament should table a minimum wage bill that can guarantee workers protection from exploitation.
The current laws on labour emphasize on the relationship between the employer and employee.
In this case, an employer has a legal obligation to meet the financial needs of a worker as long as the worker performs the prescribed duties. He explained.
According to the Employment Act 2006, a person has a legal right to work for eight-hours a day. The Act also states that employees can submit to work for a maximum of 48-hours a week, excluding public holidays.
Dr. Misaki Wanyegera an assistant lecturer and researcher in genomics at Makerere University College of Health Sciences says that on top of working in hazardous environment, his work involves long intensive hours.
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The International Labour day celebrations were held in Tororo district under the theme, 'Skilling Ugandans for increased Labour Productivity: A Shared responsibility'.