By Felix Oketcho
Industrialist and workers Member of Parliament Dr. Abdulhu Byakatonda has broken the record as the first-ever legislator to fulfil his manifesto just in three months in parliament.
The ever jolly legislator aka the ‘anchor man’ of workers rights started on his manifesto by delivering two double cabins to the National Organisation of Trade Union (NOTU) and Central Organisation of Free Trade Union (COFTU) in the record of 100 days time frame in parliament.
The two double cabin pickups will support trade unions in strengthening, organizing and recruiting campaigns countrywide.
“The vehicles are to support the two Trade Union centres of National Organization of Trade Unions (NOTU) and Central Organization of Free Trade Unions (COFTU) in mobilizing and recruitment of trade union members,” Byakatonda said.
He said the issue of organizing and recruitment was top on his campaign manifesto because the future strength of trade unions centres on the union leadership ability to prioritize organizing and recruitment processes that attracts more workers to join trade unions.
The legislator however cautioned unions to address the challenges of members, new forms of employment, unfavourable economic policies and non-recognition of workers organizations by employers.
“One key indicator of a strong union is a growing membership base. It’s, therefore my conviction to donate the two double cabin pickups for the Labour Unions to improve movements as it has been a major challenge to mobilization and recruitment process of unions,” he said.
Byakatonda said trade unions have the obligation to continually educate members about its mission, as well as its expectation from the membership.
“Unions need to routinely encourage members to get involved in union activities such as recruiting and campaigns. Additionally, the union needs to keep members updated, informed and involved in the decisions that affect both parties,” he stressed.
Byakatonda urged trade union leaders to be more innovative to match the ever-increasing workplace challenges that undermine workers’ rights.
“Innovation is required to properly address old and new workplace challenges, create a culture of innovation and be consistent in finding new opportunities and approaches. Trade unions are organizations created by employees for the purpose of representing the rights and interests of employees and for the case of Uganda they include all registered labour unions at the commencement of the Labour Unions,” noted.
According to him, trade unions have several responsibilities to their members including bargaining for better wages and conditions of employment; nurturing the worker and employer relationships; facilitating collective actions; developing new demands; providing assistance during disputes and grievances processes and improving the standard of living of members and their families.
“Unions must address the challenges of members, new forms of employment, unfavourable economic policies and non-recognition of worker organizations by employers,” he added.
Usher Owere Chairman General of NOTU applauded Hon Byakatonda for being a man of action and delivering his pledge in time.
The legislator has further facilitated the training of youths and women in entrepreneurship, vocational skills namely carpentry, soap making, mushroom growing, tailoring and modern agriculture to create employment. This was done to enhance the economic level of workers to diversify their businesses and improve their incomes after suffering from devastating COVID-19 losses.
“As aspiring workers Member of Parliament, I have embarked on the provision of skills in areas of soap making, candles, modern agriculture, tailoring and textile to women and young men in the informal sector to enhance household incomes and economic independence,” Byakatonda said.
Byakatonda has also offered industrial machines and put up a factory in the Kibuku District where the production of soap, cosmetics and women handbags are being manufactured.
He has also partnered with the Tororo diocese and Bukedi Catholic guild to train up women in entrepreneurial business skills to engage in income-generating activities.
As a promoter of aquaculture, Byakatonda has set up fish ponds and hatchery in Kibuku District and planted trees in the country to promote afforestation and address climate change.
Byakatonda a strong believer in the trade union movement pledged to empower trade unions to continue fighting for the rights of workers at all levels and negotiate for better working terms and conditions of workers.
Last year he supported 30 market unions to start cooperative Saccos to engage in the cooperative movement and engage in government development programmes.