Former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance Chris Manyindo Kassami has been appointed the Chairman of the Minimum Wages Advisory Board.
Kassami, who was also Secretary to the Treasury, heads a seven-man team that includes Chris Kanya, Milton Turyasiima, Fred Robert Namawa Wapakhabulo, Juliet Musome Nazziwa, Joram Bruno Pajobo and Dina Kusasira.
According to a June 25 release signed by Information Minister Maj Gen Jim Muhwezi, the board will in nine months ‘undertake studies and make proposals about a minimum wage in Uganda, for Government’s consideration’.
The release states that the last time government set minimum wage of Shs 6,000 was in 1984, by Statutory Instrument (SI) No.38 of 1984. Then in an adjustment after the currency reform of 1987, the minimum wage was set at Shs60, the equivalent of a dollar then. Such a wage is, indeed, inconsistent with the cost of living and other aspects of employee welfare in Uganda today.
‘The Minimum Wages Advisory Board, will, therefore, float proposals to ensure that our workers are not exploited, especially those in enterprises without vibrant Labour Unions’, the Muhwezi release states in part.
According to the Minister, the recommendations of the Board once approved, will guide investors on labour regulations in the country.
Currently, the issue of wages in Uganda is not streamlined, with employers determining how much to pay to the workers.
Indeed, the issue of minimum wage has been on the stakes for some time now, with President Yoweri Museveni weighing in at different times.
In 2013, while in Tororo for the Labour Day celebrations, Mr Museveni said that an increase in the number of investors would lead to increased job opportunities and labour demand, culminating into better wages.
And this year, while addressing people on the Labour Day in Kabale, Mr Museveni called for patience, saying he was not opposed to a minimum wage but that the government had prioritized national development programmes like road construction and security, over wage concerns.
Meanwhile, the development comes in the wake of inaudible labour grumbling over wages and salaries, with the teachers taking pivotal position in the quest for improved salaries.