The role of trade unions in the defence of workers’ rights: a case of the National Union of Plantation and Agricultural Workers in Uganda (NUPAWU)
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This research studied trade unions and the defence of workers’ rights using a case study of National Union of Plantation and Agricultural Workers in Uganda (NUPAWU), a trade union affiliated to National Organisation of Trade Unions in Uganda (NOTU). The major objective of the research was to evaluate the efficacy of trade unions in the defence of workers’ rights. The specific objectives were: to establish measures taken by trade unions to defend workers’ rights; to ascertain the violations of the workers’ rights; to identify challenges faced by the trade unions in the protection of workers’ rights; and, to find out the role of the government of Uganda in the protection of workers’ rights. The research employed four methods of data collection namely, the field survey method, in-depth interviews, observation and focus group discussions. The research established that the government has often fought the trade unions, thus rendering them inefficient. The study further established illiteracy, casualisation, inter and intra-union wrangles, and failure by the general public to understand the trade unions as major challenges to the Trade Union Movement. From the findings, the researcher surmises that Trade Unions are not weak per se but have continually been weakened to frustrate them from organizing to become power centres in themselves. The study urges all actors to prioritise workers’ rights in order to make the world of work decent and enjoyable. The study contributes to knowledge by unmasking the painful reality that government can, through being held hostage by the need to nurture the interests of influential power brokers in its highest political echelons, sacrifice the interests of its workers and instead work with both international and local exploiters to deny workers their rights and relegate them to perpetual poverty – notwithstanding any other pretenses expressed in National policy frameworks, laws and blueprints.