Over 2,700 People Unemployed by COVID-19

  • by Rodney Mponye
  • August 20, 2020

A total of 2,727 employees have either been laid off, made redundant, or had their salaries reduced in the last four months, data from the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social development indicates.
Officials from the ministry say the data is only from 20% of the districts across the country.

The ministry officials add that companies have been reluctant in filing returns.

In April, the ministry wrote to all employers after government announced lockdown demanding figures of those who have lost jobs in order to know the impact of the pandemic on labour market.

The ministry found out that 998 employees had their contracts terminated, 951 were sent on unpaid leave, 129 suspended, 26 were re-designated as part-time staff while 623 had their salaries and wages cut.
A total of 1,626 affected employees are from Kampala alone, representing more than half of those who have suffered job loss.

Data from the ministry indicates that 31 per cent of those affected are from the manufacturing sector, 15 per cent from energy sector and 8 per cent from education.

The figures from manufacturing seem a slap on the face for the workers, because according to the president, while other sectors have been hit by Covid-19, the manufacturing sector registered positive performance during the lockdown.

Mr James Ebitu, the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social development, said the compilation of data is ongoing and that they will give a final verdict after all the employers have submitted their returns.

“We wrote to all employers to submit data on unemployment. So far we have received data from only 20 per cent of the districts across the country. Our data shows that 2,727 people were affected. The situation may be worse than this, so we are still compiling. This data will inform us on the next course of action,” Mr Ebitu said.

Asked how the manufacturing sector registered the highest layoffs yet they were the least affected by the lockdown, Mr Ebitu said they are yet to find out what happened.

“If we find their operations were not affected and that actually their productivity and sales were high during this time, we shall see how to handle the situation,” he said.

Daily Monitor was unable to get clarifications from the Uganda Manufacturers’ Association on why the sector massively retrenched staff.
Both Ms Barbara Mulwana, the chairperson of the association, and Mr Daniel Birungi, the executive director, did not respond to our repeated calls.

Mr Wilson Usher Owere, the chairman general of the National Organisation of Trade Unions (Notu), said the situation is worse than the figures the ministry has so far recorded.

He said tourism, hotel and hospitality industry has been the worst hit by the pandemic.

“The manufacturers actually gained more during this pandemic and there was no reason for them to lay off the workers. Tourism suffered more because of the closure of the borders and the airport. The airport alone employs more than 20,000 people, but only the cargo people are the ones working,” he said.

As a trade union, Mr Owere said they have been talking to different employers to ensure that they don’t use Covid-19 as pretext to dismiss staff.