News / 8 March 2020

Pursuing the right to livelihood and dignity for women workers in the Ugandan palm oil sector

SEATINI Uganda is engaging women working in the palm oil sector in a campaign to improve their work situation. Around International Women's Day, March 8, they are organizing various actions to gain awareness for the situation and the rights of these women workers.

Within the East African Community (EAC) region, violations of workers' rights, especially those of women is both intense and extensive. Women working for a palm oil company told SEATINI that they earn as low as two dollars a day, are subject to poor quality food in the disguise of food incentives, and poor shelter. Furthermore they struggle with the heavy work load, as it involves applying fertilizers from sacks each weighing 50 kilo grams. They are not given proper protective gears and yet the fertilizers contain chemicals that cause itching on the skin, and irritations in the nose. During the rainy season and in days when they are experiencing their menstruation, the feeling of irritations on their skin is much worse. In case of pregnancy, they are not given the minimum length of maternity leave.

Contracts terminated for speaking out

SEATINI reports that some of these women have been fired by their employer after speaking out about their work situation to SEATINI and the Ugandan Parliament. Therefore SEATINI together with CEFROHT, a public interest litigation NGO, has submitted a case to the High Court on behalf of four women workers explaining these women's rights to a livelihood and decent working conditions were violated when the company, Oil Palm Uganda Limited / Bidco Uganda Ltd decided to terminate their contracts.

Media campaign starting on Women's Day, March 8

As SEATINI and CEFROHT await the ruling of the case by the High Court, the two organizations have also set out to undertake various actions which will begin with media engagements on International Women's Day, 8th March 2020. This will be followed by pursuing alternative measures for access to remedy, such as reporting the case to the World Bank Ombudsman Compliance Advisor, given that the Oil Palm Uganda project is financed by international financial institutions like the World Bank and the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

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