Last Updated: Thursday, 18 January 2018, 09:05 GMT

2009 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Uganda

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 11 June 2009
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2009 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Uganda, 11 June 2009, available at: [accessed 18 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: 31,900,000
Capital: Kampala
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

116 employees of Cobalt Company Limited were sacked for stopping work and demanding better wages.

Trade union rights in law

Some rights recognised: In March 2006, four labour reform bills were passed, becoming the Employment Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Labour Union Act and the Labour Disputes Act, all of which significantly improved labour laws concerning workers' rights. The Labour Union Act (LUA) repealed the Trade Union Act of 2000 and with it the requirements for a minimum of 1,000 employees in order to form a union and for the union to represent 51 percent of the workforce. However, the LUA does not specifically recognise the right to collective bargaining.

The LUA bars employers from interfering in workers' right to organise and makes it a criminal offence for an employer to obstruct this right. Anti-union discrimination by employers is prohibited, and the right to strike is recognised.

Labour disputes: The Labour Disputes (arbitration and settlement) Act, passed by Parliament in March 2006, 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 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. This is tantamount to imposing compulsory arbitration, according to the ILO's Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR), which has called for the Act to be amended.

Trade union rights in practice and violations in 2008

Dismissal of 116 strikers: In June, the management of the Cobalt Company Limited in Kasese sacked 116 workers who were demonstrating in front of the company's buildings after the breakdown of negotiations between the local union, affiliated to the Uganda Mines, Metal and Allied Workers' Union (UMMAWU), and the employers. The UMMAWU also denounced the management's recruitment of Kenyans to replace the strikers and the dreadful working conditions to which these replacement workers were subjected.

No collective bargaining in the public services: No public service unions, including medical staff and teachers, were allowed to negotiate their salaries and employment terms, which were fixed de facto by the government. Some real progress has been made over the last two years in the private sector, however, with many collective agreements being signed. One example was the national collective agreement signed between the Uganda Hotels, Food, Tourism & Allied Workers' Union (UHFTAWU) and the Uganda Hotel Owners' Association (UHOA), which covers 150 establishments and has helped the UHFTAWU gain 20,000 new members.

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