Members of Parliament from the Forum of Labor, Decent Employment, and Productivity advocate for the government’s ratification of the International Labor Organization (ILO) convention on domestic workers, commonly known as house help. Convention 189 provides guidelines on the treatment of house helps, both domestically and internationally.

As an ILO member state, Uganda is obligated to adhere to all of the organization’s resolutions, including conventions and protocols. Despite being an ILO member, Uganda has yet to ratify Convention 189, which is deemed critical by MPs due to the increasing number of Ugandans employed in domestic work, both locally and overseas.

Under this convention, the government is obligated to ensure domestic workers receive a weekly rest of at least 24 consecutive hours and have fair access to legal processes, either individually or through representation, on par with other workers. 

The urgency to compel the government to ratify these convention requirements was emphasized during a parliamentary training session on decent employment interventions organized by the government of Belgium through Enabel Cooperation.

Roland Ndy’omugyenyi, chairperson of the forum, criticizes the government’s slow progress in the ratification process, noting that several labor conventions remain unratified, impacting workers’ rights. 

He stresses that all workers, including those in domestic roles, deserve decent employment, highlighting the increasing popularity of domestic work internationally, particularly in labor export markets.

According to a 2024 Ministry of Labor and Social Development (MoGLSD) report on labor externalization, over 220,000 Ugandan migrant workers are employed as domestic workers, primarily in the Middle East, with numbers in the local labor market yet to be determined. 

Apollo Onzoma, MoGLSD assistant commissioner for labor and industrial relations, stated in an interview that the ministry has initiated the ratification process for over five conventions, including Convention 189, advocated for by MPs.

Onzoma clarifies that the delay in members’ awareness of progress is due to an information gap, noting that some conventions, such as those addressing harassment and violence, have already been ratified. 

He explains that the ratification process entails extensive consultations and resource allocation, along with aligning conventional clauses with national laws, a task undertaken by the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, which has been completed for some conventions.

He emphasizes that the absence of ratified conventions does not imply inaction, citing the Employment Act, which safeguards workers’ rights, including those of domestic workers. 

Onzoma underscores the ministry’s commitment to developing regulations for specific worker groups, including domestic workers, to ensure they are treated equitably, regardless of the existence of regulatory frameworks, local or international.


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