Workshop producing brushes at the Misrach Center in Addis Ababa. This center provides employment and vocational training for those who suffer from a handicap. (Photo File)

Persons with Disabilities Ask for Inclusive Labor law

By Sisay Sahlu

ADDIS ABEBA- People with disability on Friday requested lawmakers for an inclusive national labor law that could accommodate them with other persons in workplaces.

The lower house of parliament has held the first public hearing on the draft labor bill on Friday before its eventual ratification later this year.

Representatives of persons with disabilities left disappointed with the bill saying it lacks to give attention to the rights of disabled persons.

This is the only opportunity given “to us to discuss the document”, said Wessen Alemu, president of an association for Visually Impaired Persons.

He said it is very difficult to assess the bill “whether it has enough provisions that will make sure our rights are respected” in a country people with disabilities face practical concerns as well as ill-treatment in their working environment.

Wessen said any law drafting and ratification efforts should accommodate people with a physical, mental, cognitive, and or developmental disability.

The existing labor law served for about 14 years. From recruiting to the final stages of employment, existing Ethiopia’s labor proclamation does not help the cause of people with disabilities, he said.

The revised document too has failed to correct that, he added.

“When an employer oppresses the right of a disabled person, we need a protective law that could stand for us,” Wessen added.

He suggested for Ethiopia to take up the experiences to other countries and include a quota system in recruiting employees.

“Otherwise, I don’t see the current trend of us applying for a job and employers or companies rejecting us for no valuable reason,” said Wessen. “At the moment many are not interested to hire disabled people”.

Women, youth and social affairs standing committee chairperson of the parliament Abeba Yosef said the committee will continue to confer with ministry of labor and social affairs and other stakeholders to have an inclusive labor proclamation.

She promised to ready a bill “that could help employers as well as employees in very suitable way”.

The discussion on the bill will continue for few months, but will be reappearing in front of the legislators for approval before their summer recess, according to the chairperson.