Uganda observes Labour Day on 1 May as a national public holiday and takes it very seriously. There is an annual official event at which the president of Uganda officiates, gives a speech, and hands out awards and medals, for example.
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Since 2015, an Industrial Court has been established to handle labour related disputes, and laws affecting the minimum wage and worker health and safety have been more effectively enforced. Additionally, fines and other actions against those employers who violate labour laws or do not register their business are a real threat.
There has also been an impetus toward licensing organisations that recruit Ugandans for work overseas and trying to prevent, as unfortunately has happened in the past, women and children being kidnapped as sex slaves after arriving at their destinations.
A day off work and spent with family is the essence of a Labour Day for most in Uganda. But labour unions also express concern that population growth is outpacing job market growth, and peaceful demonstrations for better labour laws and work conditions are not unheard of.
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