Workers oppose COVID-19 testing fees without Minimum Wage

Usher Wilson Owere
Chairman General of the National Organization of Trade Unions (NOTU), Usher Wilson Owere.

Kampala, Uganda | URN | Usher Wilson Owere, the Chairperson General of the National Organization of Trade Unions (NOTU) has joined those opposed to the newly introduced COVID-19 testing fees by the Health Ministry.

According to the Ministry, each company that seeks to test its employees will have to pay Shillings 240,500 for a single test. He says even corporate bodies are to pay for their employees or some employees are able to pay, the COVID-19 testing fees isn’t proper without a Minimum Wage in place.

Mr Owere argues that majority of workers in the country earn very little and are in informal employment, adding that subjecting them to pay for Covid-19 testing will amount to the denial of their rights to health and basic resources that should be provided by the government.

He insists that there is no solid reason for the government to impose Covid-19 testing fees on workers some of whom have lost their jobs, suffered pay cuts or left without pay because of the pandemic.

Mr Owere says that even without relevant labour laws to protect the workers from paying for COVID-19 testing, it is logical for the government not to charge them in such a situation where all citizens are suffering. He says the government is likely to lose the war on COVID-19 should it insist on charging citizens for testing.

Read Also: Ugandan gov’t to charge Shs 240,000 for each COVID-19 test

The Health Ministry spokesperson, Emmanuel Ainebyona clarifies that the government will continue providing free testing for different categories of citizens including those with consistent COVID-19 symptoms, contact of previously confirmed cases, health workers and during the routine rapid assessment.

He says the COVID-19 testing fees will only apply to individuals that would voluntarily want to know their COVID-19 status, returnees from abroad, truck drivers and corporate companies.

Recently, the Regional Truck Drivers Association also rejected the COVID-19 testing fees describing it as inhumane and counterproductive.