Shortage of labour inspectors and funds is hindering the enforcement of labour laws in the Ruwenzori region.
The labour inspectors are responsible for examining workplaces to ensure compliance to health and safety requirements, legal terms and conditions of work and observance of labor laws. They are also charged with investigating work-related accidents and complaints about assault and unfair termination of employment.
However in some districts in the region, there is only one inspector, while in other districts, there is no single inspector, which has resulted to lack of routine inspections in places like factories, where health and safety issues are regularly of concern.
The lack of the inspectors has also given room to employers not to adhere to health and safety guidelines at the places of work, which puts the lives of the employees at risk.
At some of the work places like in tea factories, workers lack any protective gears such as gloves and eye goggles and as a result, they are exposed to dust and chemicals. Some of the workers don’t have overalls and gumboots.
In Bundibugyo district, there is no single inspector, apart from the labour officer. Moses Bamugisa, the district labour officer says that he can’t visit the work places single handed citing lack of resources.
He says that work place like factories in the district have never been inspected for more than three years.
Bamugisa says that due to human resource shortages, routine inspections are only conducted in places like factories where health and safety issues are regularly of concern.
In Kabarole district, Christopher Monday, the district labour officer says that the labour office is supposed to have two assistants to supervise and inspect places of work, but there is only one inspector, who serves other districts like Kyejonjo, Kamwenge and Ntoroko.
He says that the office relies on inspectors from the Ministry of Labour, but they are not regular in inspection. According to Monday, the labour department is allocated only one million shillings every financial year, which is inadequate to inspect places of work.
Monday also states that although there should be routine inspection of work places, some work places like government agencies and private companies are only visited when official complaints are reported.
In a telephone interview, Oja Andira, the Acting Commissioner for Labour says the Ministry is planning to recruit labour inspectors in different parts of the district.
According to Andira, there are only 28 labour inspectors for the entire country stationed in Mukono, Mbarara, Jinja, Mbale and Masindi districts.