On 1st May 2017, CSOs, Government, Private sector and people from all walks of life gathered at Saza grounds, Kamuge sub-county in Pallisa district for the national celebrations to mark International Labour Day. The celebrations under the theme: ‘‘Building the Nation through Good Work Ethics’’ was attended by dignitaries, including the President, H.E Yoweri K. Museveni, Vice President, Hon Edward Ssekandi: cabinet ministers, MPs, ambassadors, judicial officers, civil, religious and local leaders.
Various members of civil society were present at the event and Uganda National NGO Forum (UNNGOF), in partnership with Pallisa Civil Society Network (PACONET) also participated in the day’s activities. PACONET is part of Pallisa District Planning Technical Committee and as such was part of the preparations for the national celebrations for the International Labor Day.
The labour day celebrations are held in recognition of the dignity of labor and the important contribution it makes to socio economic and political development of a country. This year’s theme was derived from Uganda’s aspiration to transform to a modern and prosperous country from a peasant one as hailed in the Vision 2040. Its arguable that this can only be achieved if among other things, we have in place a well defined ideology and national value system that every citizen subscribes to. Said value systems may arguably only be developed through ethics, integrity, national identity, positive cultural practices, and positive attitudes and mindsets. These too translate into good work ethics – become the basis for rules and standards that govern the conduct of workers: integrity; responsibility; decent dressing; team work; time management; transparency inter alia.
Nation building in essence therefore is about ensuring peaceful co-existence and social economic development of the nation. Nation building in all its forms requires good work ethics upon which sustainable growth is based; in public and private enterprise, a value system which promotes selfless labor to lift the yoke of poverty in society is cherished.
Civil society participation in the labor day celebrations was key and should not be over looked. The key values crucial for nation building – honesty; positive attitude; caring about others; learning new skills; responsibility and reliability; doing more than expected; team work; and initiative – are at the core of much of civil society work through the different platforms of governance, accountability, livelihoods and rights based efforts inter alia. One of government’s measures to promote good work ethics is the adoption of the ‘Zero Tolerance’ to Corruption policy which is in direct support of CSO anti-corruption efforts with campaigns like Black Monday and other accountability efforts.
In his speech at the celebrations, the President urged workers to support the creation of new factories in the country saying that it is the only way the Government will ensure more jobs for Ugandans, from the current 1.2 million jobs to the desired 15 million jobs. He assured them that more factories will be set up in Tororo and Kamuli for the production of phosphates and fertilizers and one for steel and glass making citing Soroti where factories of fruits and juices were set up and increased employment in the area.
Meanwhile the workers used the celebrations to remind the President of the need to review the minimum wage to deal with the changing standards of living. However Hajat Janat Mukwaya, the Minister for Gender and Labour, informed the workers that the Minimum Wage Committee set up by the Government for the review of the minimum wage had completed its report and submitted it to the Cabinet for consideration.
The Chairman Central Organisation of Free Trade Unions, Chris Kahirita requested Government to revisit the Pension Act to make sure there are no mistakes once the sector is opened to other players and also consideration be made for a win-win situation where other pension funds and NSSF can compete and have the workers choose who they want and suits their needs.
The celebrations also saw about 150 distinguished Ugandans awarded Golden Jubilee medals and Rwenzori star medal; among the recipients was Maj Gen Peter Elwelu, the UPDF’ Land Forces Commander. The President also handed over shs255m dummy cheques to 41 women groups in Pallisa district for economic empowerment.
Compiled by Rachael Damba