Casual labourers at Kitgum modern market in Kitgum Municipality on
Saturday laid down their tools protesting delayed salary payment and poor
More than 40 workers led a peaceful procession from the market site under
construction in central division and pitched camp outside the Resident District
Construction of the 23 billion shillings market commenced in June this year and
is being undertaken by China State Construction Engineering Corporation Ltd
with fund from African Development Bank.
Dick Oloya, one of the casual labourers alleged that workers are always paid
late adding that they have now entered the seventh day this month without
receiving their payment yet they have obligations to settle.
He also adds that their remuneration is too low compared to the tedious and
bulk work they are doing at the site.
For instance, Oloya says they are paid only 7,500 shillings daily but 2,500
shillings is deducted for feeding leaving them with only 5,000 shillings’.
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Oloya notes that workers at the site currently do not have any
contractual agreement with the contractor, a position that has left them
vulnerable to unfair dismissal from work minus payment.
Another worker who didn’t want to be named for fear of reprisal says they lack
safety gears despite risky works that they are undertaking at the site that
exposes them to injuries.
He says workers at the site also don’t have any health insurance adding that
whenever one is sick or has sustained injuries, they are the ones who meet cost
of treatment from the meagre salaries.
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The aggrieved workers also presented to the district leaders allegations
of sexual harassment against female workers, non-payment for overtime work,
harassment by security personnel manning the site.
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The Kitgum Municipal Mayor Livings Walter Tooroma who met the
casual labourers says his office will investigate the allegations to ensure
that they are helped.
The Kitgum resident district commissioner William Komakech noted that an
emergency meeting is scheduled for Monday with the Chinese contractor to
understand the allegations raised by the workers.
He, however, asked the casual labourers to resume work in order not to
frustrate progress on the market construction.
Construction of the market under the second phase of the Market and
Agricultural Trade Improvement (MATIP) program is expected to last two years.