Unveiling Usher Wilson Owere’s 15-year leadership legacy at NOTU

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

Kampala, Uganda | By Michael Wandati | In a remarkable tenure spanning three terms (15 years) as Chairman General of the National Organization of Trade Unions (NOTU), Usher Wilson Owere has left an indelible leadership legacy on the landscape of labour unions in Uganda.

Following years of bitter infighting at NOTU, Mr. Usher Wilson Owere relinquished the reigns of power on 5th, December 2023. The development culminated from the election of the body’s new executive during 10th NOTU congress at Hotel Africana in Kampala.

During the elections, Mr. Musa Okello gained the Chairman General docket unopposed.

“I am leaving but I am going to keep a close eye on the going-ons of NOTU and act as the Inspector General of the plight of workers,” Mr. Owere said.

Mr Usher Wilson Owere highlights his 15-year leadership legacy achievements to delegates during 10th NOTU congress at Hotel Africana in Kampala.

Mr. Owere’s leadership over the years, has been characterized by visionary initiatives and strategic decisions that have shaped NOTU into a robust and representative center, recognized by international bodies such as the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

Under Mr. Owere’s guidance, NOTU underwent significant transformations. The union, once facing financial challenges, saw the return of donors who had previously severed ties. This financial revival paved the way for critical amendments to the NOTU Constitution, ensuring the inclusion of special interest groups like women, youth, and workers with disabilities.

One of Mr. Owere’s early successes was the consolidation of trade unions in Uganda. Despite strategic differences, he advocated for unity between COFTU and NOTU. This collaborative approach led to an agreement to alternate labor day speech days, fostering cooperation instead of rivalry.

Mr. Usher Wilson Owere’s commitment extended beyond NOTU itself. He played a pivotal role in supporting the Uganda National Teachers Union (UNATU), resulting in the first salary increases for government teachers and the establishment of a SACCO fund. His strategic leadership also united fragmented nurse unions under the umbrella of the Uganda Nurses and Midwives Union (UNMU).

Notably, Mr. Owere secured a permanent home for NOTU, acquiring a house at Kyaliwanjala. He successfully protected the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) from potential scandals and ensured workers’ representation in the governance of the fund.

Furthermore, his advocacy efforts reached the legislative arena, preventing the liberalization of pension schemes that targeted NSSF. With the withdrawal of the bill, Mr. Owere safeguarded workers’ savings.

Also Read: High Court reverses Usher Wilson Owere’s dismissal as NOTU boss

In the realm of international recognition, Mr. Owere elevated NOTU’s status to a world-class organization acknowledged by ILO, ITUC, and other international bodies. His consistent advocacy for marginalized workers and fearless representation has resonated both locally and globally.

Beyond these achievements, Mr. Usher Wilson Owere has been instrumental in the revival of Uganda Airlines, advocated for salary enhancements for health workers and scientists, and left a lasting impact on various unions, including the Amalgamated Transport and General Workers Union (ATGWU).

As Mr. Owere concludes his tenure, his legacy stands as a testament to transformative leadership, resilience, and a relentless commitment to advancing the interests of workers in Uganda. With numerous accomplishments to his name, Mr. Usher Wilson Owere’s contributions to the labor movement will undoubtedly leave an enduring mark for years to come.