PRIORITIZE THE RIGHT TO DIGNITY & LIVELIHOOD OF CASUAL WORKERS AMIDST THE COVID19 PANDEMIC

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In amplifying the voices of women workers in factories, and plantation based investments for better working conditions and higher wages, SEATINI Uganda is calling upon the Government of Uganda to prioritize the right to dignity and livelihood of casual workers amidst the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which has affected and is still affecting many workers, regardless of sector or locality.

Across Africa, many big brands have built empires while violating the rights of some of the most marginalized individuals in society.

Casual workers, especially women, in factories and plantation-based investments, have for many years faced numerous challenges including working under very precarious conditions. These individuals are subject to work without or with inappropriate Personal Protective Equipment which exposes them to irritations and burns when the fertilizers and other chemicals that they use get into contact with their skin, nose, eyes and throat. The workers are also subject to very low wages, lower than 4,400 Uganda shillings a day; unfair dismissal from work; no access to either annual leave or maternity leave as a consequence of child birth; very heavy work load, involving carrying of 1,200 kilograms of load a day, whether by a woman or a man among others.

For these essential workers, who remain unnoticed, it is a double tragedy. While they are currently faced with the burden of very poor working and living conditions, this situation is being worsened, day by day, by COVID-19 and its attendant effects. 

It is our petition therefore, that the Government of Uganda: 

1. Sets a Minimum Wage for specific sectors, especially for sectors that have not been greatly affected by the pandemic. 

2. Directs all companies to avail workers, both casual and staff workers with proper and adequate personal protective gear for protection against the exposure to various injuries during their work; and against the spread of COVID-19

3. Removes Pay As You Earn on wages below 600,000 Uganda shillings for at least a period of 6 months, subject to review after this period.