Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 January 2018, 09:04 GMT

2010 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Uganda

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 9 June 2010
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2010 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Uganda, 9 June 2010, available at: [accessed 24 January 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Population: 32,700,000
Capital: Kampala
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

The ILO expressed concerns about a reluctance to enforce the respect of trade union rights for fear of deterring foreign investors. Public sector workers were still not able to negotiate their salaries and employment terms. Although the labour laws have improved, compulsory arbitration is still in place.

Trade union rights in law

Some issues remain despite basic trade union rights being guaranteed. In 2006, four labour reform bills were passed, all of which significantly improved labour laws concerning workers' rights. Employers are barred from interfering in workers' right to organise, and it is a criminal offence to obstruct this right.

The right to collective bargaining is guaranteed under the Labour Unions Act, and the Labour Disputes Act provides for the fast resolution of labour disputes and elevates the Industrial Court to the status of the High Court. However, section 27 of the latter Act empowers the Minister of Labour to refer a dispute to the Industrial Court if either side does not comply with the recommendations of a board of inquiry, a procedure that is tantamount to compulsory arbitration.

Trade union rights in practice and violations in 2009

Background: In January, the rebel Lord's Resistance Army appealed for a ceasefire following a coordinated offensive by neighbouring countries after it failed to sign a peace agreement in 2008. There was also good news for the economy in January as UK oil explorer Heritage Oil made what it described as a "world class" oil discovery in the Lake Albert Rift Basin.

No collective bargaining in public sector: No public service unions, including medical staff and teachers, are able to negotiate their salaries and employment terms, as these are fixed de facto by the government.

Union rights often not enforced: In November, Uganda was criticised by an ILO representative in the country for failing to protect workers' rights to organise and engage in collective bargaining for fear of offending foreign investors. These rights were further hampered by heavy bureaucracy, the ILO said. In a meeting with the Labour Minister in September, the Central Organisation of Free Trade Unions (COFTU) had expressed serious concern about the ill-treatment of workers by foreign investors. In April, the Labour Minister asked the Chief Justice to appoint a judge to handle the backlog of workers' complaints and disputes in the Industrial Court.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

Search Refworld