By Max Patrick Ocaido
Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Janat Mukwaya misled President Yoweri Museveni on the Minimum Wages Bill, 2015, according to Workers’ MP Arinaitwe Rwakajara.
Rwakajara, who is the mover of the Minimum Wages Bill says that President Museveni declined to assent to the Bill after being ‘ill-advised’ by Minister Mukwaya.
“On May 28, Minister of Gender Hon Janat Mukwaya wrote to the President requesting him not to sign the Bill. She gave some reasons which I don’t agree with and more so she does not even labour to guide or provide solutions. It is from this misguided opinion that the president based on not to sign the Bill,” Rwakajara said during a press conference at his office.
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga last week announced that President Museveni had rejected the Bill in its entirety. The Bill that was passed by parliament in February this year sought to set up a minimum wage determination mechanism across different sectors of the economy.
According to Museveni, there are no gaps in the Minimum Wages Advisory Board Act that the Bill (Minimum Wages Bill) seeks to address.
“It is unfortunate that Hon Mukwaya could pick the courage and write to the president. She misadvised him. This Bill is completely different from the current law of 1957 which is now irrelevant,” Rwakajara said.
“If she claims there is a law to address minimum wages then how comes she has not yet implemented it? She has been at the Ministry for over 3years but she has never attempted to fix minimum wages.”
Rwakajara further faults Minister Mukwaya for wasting Parliament’s time and resources in scrutinizing the Bill and eventually passing it.
“This Bill went through all the stages. All stakeholders including government, workers, employers and employees appeared before the committee and it is from their submissions that the committee based on to process the bill. She [Mukwaya] did not reject the bill at committee stage or even defend her position on the floor of parliament but rather decided to write to the president after it had been passed,” he said.
Rwakajara, who is also a backbench parliamentary commissioner, said that he is ready to return the Bill on the floor of Parliament for debate.
The Minimum Wages Bill, 2015 was read for the first time on December 24, 2015, before it was referred to the Committee on Gender, labour and Social Development. The Bill also seeks to address the gaps in the current Minimum Wage Advisory Board Act by providing for an employee-employer led minimum wages determination, sectoral based minimum wage determination and application.