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My Career in Media and The Wage Debate In Uganda

In logical terms, 50,000/Ugx is about 13.5$ which is average one hour pay internationally (I may be wrong). In the Ugandan scenario, the paperwork will state that you are being paid that much, for the hour. This, without considering your pre and post-production work. This usually becomes four to six hours before and after presentation. For a supposed one hour, you end up giving 6-7 extra hours of unpaid time. 

This is where the problems begin.

When I hosted and presented FitnessWatch on WBS in 1999, I was a clueless teenager, happy to be on TV. But BROKE. I was just starting out as a fitness instructor. My classes made next to nothing. I thus made and sold samosas to my fellow instructors and staff as a side hassle. One of my clients, Mr. Matsiko, then CD of Compassion international asked me to apply for a Data Analyst job at Compassion International. This gave me extra 280,000 gross pay monthly. The office tea and lunch (very good and rich) nourished me on food as my other basic need. Then, I took another job as a beautician in training at #MYNAILS and later managed the outlet. These two salaries plus, tips and the odd commission on classes sustained me.

I was earning close to a million, sometimes over by 2000. I was by all standards a rich teenager and young woman later.

However, the day I demanded compensation for my face, talent and time on WBS was the week they stopped coming to film me. But replays of my classes continued over a year after I stopped. My contract of 600000/- monthly pay with EATV was also terminated when I demanded better pay and work conditions. The contract stated presenter. But my work included scouting, translation, transcribing, editing, scheduling and. ..(any other duties). The bright side to this was that when I went to claim my NSSF from Tanzania, it was there. It cleared part of my University tuition at IUIU.

So, beyond the heated rhetoric and social media furore that has thankfully been ignited by an admirable warrior in the person of Sheila Gashumba, what is our way forward?!

Where is the minimum standards wage bill and what is the reason for it’s stalling?!

What is the ‘legal’ minimum wage of Uganda?!

Why are our young women considering slavery in the Arab world a step up from in-country pay?!

Why are we beset with a desperate, mostly semi-skilled workforce in the media?!

How can we proactively change this status quo?!

Behind your home fences, if, you are still paying your house manager(help) anything less than 200,000/Ugx per month, keep quite. You are no different from the media paying presenters/journalists peanuts.

When I write or review now, I do it out of love. There is a long tedious line to demanding for that 90,000k for a double-page spread in a paper which takes at least a month to document and write. Maybe one day, I will collect these accumulated earnings. Till then, I am earning more and better, off the media scene per assignment or commission than what I earned whilst on TV.

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What do you think?

Written by Acaye Pamela

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