SEATINI and Other CSOs advocate for the promotion of the right to dignity and livelihoods of women workers in commercial Investment Schemes.
In commemoration of this year’s International Women’s Day on 8th March 2022, SEATINI Uganda together with Center for Food and Adequate Living Rights (CEFROHT), Uganda Consortium on Corporate Accountability, Platform for Labour Action, Food Rights Alliance (FRA), National Organisation of Trade Unions (NOTU) and Coalition of Human Rights Defenders in Uganda organised a press conference and called on the Government of Uganda and investors to prioritize citizen’s rights to dignity and livelihood of women workers over profits.
Ms Jane Nalunga, Executive Director, SEATINI Uganda noted that many commercial investment schemes are increasingly becoming synonymous with human and environmental rights violations when it comes to women especially in factories, flower firms and plantations. She also added that a number of investment related policy frameworks in Uganda are blind to the protection of economic, social and cultural rights specifically the Investment Code Act, 2019 which still has many gaps like a requirement for human rights impact assessment to be taken by investors prior and during the implementation of investment projects.
Mr Kabanda David, Executive Director, CEFROHT emphasized that labour abuses have been happening for quite sometime and therefore there is need for the government to step up and review the employment act, 2006 and the occupation health and safety act, 2006 to protect workers rights to dignity and livelihood especially women.
“Together with SEATINI Uganda, we filed a case in court calling on government to compensate the victims who were working in oil palm plantation because they were sacked erroneously. We want Government to investigate human rights abuses in various commercial investment schemes across the country. We also want government to put in place a minimum wage that can at least improve the livelihoods of labourers including women casual workers in various commercial investment schemes,” Mr David Kabanda said.
Ms Lydia Bwite, Manager, Rights Social Protection and Accountability, Platform for Labour Action reiterated that most of the vulnerable workers do not have contracts for their jobs and they are sacked at will. Many have complained of sexual harassment and work overload.
“We want government to look at the contract of these workers. They lack the necessary protection gears needed while at work. The government must address the job insecurity, low pay, sexual harassment, and violation of their rights should be investigated,’’ Bwite said.
One of the victims of land eviction emphasizes that the government has not done much for them and protecting its citizens generally from investors who grab their land.
CSOs therefore called on Government of Uganda to;
• Urgently review the Investment Code Act, 2019 to address the challenges associated with Largescale Land Based investments to include Human Rights Impact Assessment, Performance Requirements and specifically enforce the African Union Guidelines for Largescale Land Based Investments and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
• Investigate into the situation of workers in commercial investment schemes such as factories, flower firms, and plantations with a view to secure redress for the affected persons.
• Review the Employment Act, 2006 and the Occupation Health and Safety Act, 2006 to protect people’s (workers’ and communities’) right to dignity and livelihood.
• Expedite the process of ratifying the ILO Convention No. 190 and align the legal framework to address violence and harassment in the world of work.
SEATINI Uganda is undertaking a campaign dubbed “Life Before Profits” to advance the primacy of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in investment related Agreements, Policies and processes.