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Uganda unions engage social partners on African industrialization strategies

12 November, 2020IndustriALL Global Union affiliates in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda are hosting national conferences to discuss African industrialization strategies. This is part of African Industrialization Week, 17-20 November.

On 10 November six IndustriALL affiliates in Uganda organized a conference that was attended by 80 participants, including key social partners, to discuss strategies for the economic development of the country and how this links to the industrialization of the continent through the integration of regional economic communities.

The unions agreed that the country’s third National Development Plan (2020-2025) is an important policy document for Uganda’s industrialization, and that unions must ensure its implementation. The plan promotes value addition in the mining, oil and gas and other sectors as well as employment creation. The unions emphasized that industrialization must bring decent jobs and that workers’ rights must be respected. The meeting also called on the country to ratify International Labour Organization Convention 190 on eliminating violence and harassment in the world of work.

Further, living wages and ending precarious work should be considered in the implementation. While investments in industrial development should also bring new skills to the workers. The government should also build more export processing zones for the textile, garment, leather, and shoe sector which can create more jobs for Ugandans along the value chain. Small to medium scale industries should also be supported.

At the meeting were Members of Parliament representing workers, government officials, business organizations, and trade union leaders. The trade union federations present were National Organization of Trade Unions (NOTU) and Central Organization of Free Trade Unions (COFTU). Civil society organizations, employer organizations, and experts also attended the conference.

The five Members of Parliament for workers promised to take the industrialization debate to parliament. Uganda’s constitution allows for the election of MPs to represent workers.

Speaking at the conference, Hajji Twaha Sempebwa, chairperson  of the IndustriALL Coordinating Council for Uganda said:

“Industrialization is key to the development of Sub Saharan African countries including Uganda as it creates opportunities for decent jobs. However, we should ensure that workers’ rights and decent work are part of the agenda. Our governments have taken great strides to ensure success, but there is still a lot to be done to overcome the challenges in implementation especially under the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL assistant general secretary said:

“We applaud the Ugandan IndustriALL affiliates for bringing the social partners together to discuss the industrialization of Africa. Sustainable industrial policymaking should be inclusive and be done through social dialogue. Further, industrialization is important as it creates decent manufacturing jobs that will reduce the high levels of unemployment and end poverty.” 

IndustriALL affiliates in Uganda are the Uganda Textiles, Garment, Leather and Allied Workers’ Union (UTGLAWU), Uganda Hotels, Food, Tourism, Supermarkets & Allied Workers’ Union (HTS-Union), Uganda Chemical, Petroleum, and Allied Workers’ Union (UCPAWU), National Union of Clerical, Commercial, Professional and Technical Employees, (NUCCPTE), and Uganda Mines, Metal, Oil, Gas & Allied Workers’ Union (UMMOGAWU) and Uganda Printers, Paper, Polyfibre and Allied Workers’ Union (UPPPAWU).