The presence of the Asians in Uganda dates back to the end of the 19th century when the indentured servants from India came to construct the Uganda railway.
With the coming of Idim Amin to power they were expelled on account that they were exploiting Ugandans.
However when president Museveni captured power in 1986 he encouraged their return and some recovered their properties under the Expropriated Properties Act.
To be pricise, there is a steady rise of resentment against Asians and government, this is rooted in the prevailing social economics of our society.
Frustration of the graduates with wages and working conditions in many factories. I am not the first or last person to write about this. For that matter I will quote the following reports preceding my dialogue with this issue today:
BBC dated 15th May, 2016 “Despite making up less than 1% of the population, they are estimated to contribute up to 65% of Uganda’s tax revenue.
Uganda-Asian tax revenue contributions.
1972-90% of the total receipt
1985-30% of the total receipt
2016-65% of the total receipt.
Source: Indian Association of Uganda
There is also a real concern over labour exploitation, given that there is no official minimum wage in Uganda”
Paul Lakuma: from Uganda Economic Policy Research Centre:“Uganda’s Asian and African communities should not only corporate through commerce but also benefit from social integration”
Global Press Journal dated October 16th 2016 “Indian owned business contributes more than 65% of the country’s domestic revenue and employ more than 1 million native Africans. One of the people interviewed by this news paper by the names of Angela Atuha a student of Makerere business school who worked at an Indian owned clothing store , stated that “they pay low wages and provide poor working conditions, they will never let a black person however qualified to take up a higher position in their companies, black Ugandans are always given low jobs”.
The deepening theory in employment relations in Uganda today is that Indians are the worst employers. Averagely any Ugandan can tell you that he or she does not desire to work for an Indian especially the desperate youth. This theory is majorly among the casual workers who majorly constitute of desperate graduates, they state that what they are paid by their Indian bosses is a slavery wage. With many Ugandans getting in the employment economy and Ugandans of Indian origin maintaining their grip on the economy, without any interventions to curtail the situation, industrial strikes are inevitable.
To begin with, Uganda does not have a minimum wage and there is no substantial minimum wage law in Uganda to harmonize production relations.
The former state minister for labour Hon.Mr. Mwesigwa Rukutana when questioned about the signing of the minimum wage bill into law, he stated that the move to establish the minimum wage bill is suicidal. See: Daily Monitor of 29th April, 2021
What is important is not the minimum wage law but the willingness of these fake investors and their government agent to stop the arrogance and respect the efforts of a Ugandan worker.
The law is an ass hall, we have good laws on employment relations but there is no way they can survive the conspiracy of government and the exploiters against the workers.
Averagely factories owned by Indians in Uganda pay a casual laborer 5000/= UGX (Five thousand Uganda shillings) per day without any allowance such as lunch, food etc. This translates to 1.4USD a day. As per the Bank of Uganda major exchange rate archives dated 28th June, 2021 where 1 dollar costs 3549.93/=UGX. 5000/= translate to 150,000/=UGX a month.
The cheapest rent for a house in Kampala costs 50,000/= monthly. The cheapest dish of food in Kampala costs 2,000/= translating to 60,000/=UGX costs on food a month. That is when a worker foregoes one meal a day. Majority of these companies don’t provide accommodation to these casual workers importing that for example when a person stays in Bweyogerere and works in Nakawa he or she will have to incur transport costs amounting to 2000/=UGX a day to travel to and from work. Translating to 60,000/=UGX a month.
It follows that from the above calculation, the total expenditure is (50000/=UGX for rent + 60000/= for food + 60000/= for transport= 170000/=UGX as grand total expenditure) exceeding the net salary with 20,000/= the foregoing connotes that majority of our workers in Uganda are earning in negative at the supervision of government officials and the Indian capitalists.
With this, it means that our youth can’t save, borrow because they don’t earn, they can’t invest because they don’t save and have no means to borrow.
Peasant farmers in the villages even pay much better than these so-called investors yet they are not looked at with any value.
For example, a casual worker doing tilling land in the village is paid 1000/=UGX per hour plus lunch allowance. This is a dream for a casual worker in Indian firms here in Kampala. The behavior of some of these Indian investors is either arrogance, primitive capitalism or a conspiracy with some of the government officials to maintain exploitation and retard economic progress of our children. The difference between the Indians in Uganda before the 1972 economic revolution and some Asians today is that there was no cordial relationship with the government then.
Politicians have been used as managers of social affairs at the expense of the electorate.
The problem of employment relations in Uganda is not legal, its not one of economic technicalities, its one of morality, bottle necks in the enforcement of employment regulations due to gross corruption in government agencies.
The raging corruption made government agents captives of the capitalist interests. They entered into a conspiracy deal against workers.
In my book “THE SLAVERY IN MODERN EDUCATION” I write to government about the poor education system that has made schools carriers of modern vices such as corruption, exploitation and bad governance. Both the Indians and the government have castigated the principle of humanity from the production chain, they are all captives of this ideological slavery. With this behavior and limited transparency in government agencies, a social revolution is inevitable.
The welfare of workers is not in the interest of government and these exploiters. The fake investors have taken advantage of the poor government systems with limited levels of accountability to the electorate, they have taken advantage of the deficiency of good and visionary leadership in government.
Universities graduate students every year but there are no jobs, even the few jobs available are exploitative in nature.
Graduates are mistreated and paid slave wages. The so-called investors say that the graduates from the Ugandan universities lack skills yet the government continues to flood them in. What follows is the importation of labour from these Asian countries, why then does the government continue to bring investors to create jobs yet it is well within its knowledge that its people are not yet qualified to take up such jobs?
Government has kept a deaf ear to workers interests, when confronted with realistic demands, government officials retreat in economic technicalities. Investors continue to join the millionaires club yet the workers continue to fall below the bar of poverty.
In conclusion, what is happening to Ugandan casual workers under Asian companies cannot be termed as employment, it is slavery under government supervision. That is the proper name for it given the conditions explained herein above.
The labour unions can not function to help the workers because the government together with these fake investors frustrate them as they have similar class interests.
The author of “THE SLAVERY IN MODERN EDUCATION”
Email. [email protected], Tel +256708157586