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Uganda mattress factory fire claims six

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16 March, 2015The bodies of six casual workers were found after a fire was put out on Monday 9 March 2015 in a locally-owned mattress factory in Kampala, Uganda. 

“We have been assured that there will be an intensive investigation into the deaths of these workers,” said Catherine Aneno, General Secretary of Uganda Textile Garments Leather and Allied Workers Union (UTGLAWU).

Despite having signed a recognition agreement with Crest Foam in 2009, the company has refused to negotiate with UTGLAWU, which is affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union. In Uganda members only pay dues once a bargaining agreement has been reached with the company.

“We have met with the Minister of Labour and told him how uncooperative the company has been with the union in the past,” reports Aneno, who also expressed concern for the 250 workers at the factory. “Workers have been sent home with no information on what is to happen to their jobs, so we are organizing them; having them sign updated membership forms and calculating what is due to them should the company close.” 

The six workers that have died are burnt beyond recognition. The union will assist their families to seek compensation once DNA tests confirm their identity. Compensation will also be sought for two more workers that have been hospitalized.

 “Investigations are ongoing but it is clear that health and safety legislation is only worthwhile if it is implemented, monitored and enforced, which requires all stakeholders to actively play their part to ensure the safety of workers,” said Jyrki Raina, General Secretary of IndustriALL. “Our deepest sympathy and solidarity goes out to the families of the workers that lost their lives and all those affected by this tragedy.”