A group of journalists from the government-owned New Vision and the Daily Monitor have run to KCCA’s Labour Office to file petitions over wrongful termination of services and violation of their labour rights by the two companies.
Earlier this year, Nation Media Group in Uganda announced it was going to carry out a restructuring process as part of a re-organisation to become more efficient.
Consequently, some staff members were terminated.
In the latest complaint filed with the KCCA Labour office, the 13 former employees at Nation Media Group say they were terminated on account of redundancy but without genuine reasons and without going through a full and fair consultation process with them.
“In breach of sections 6(1), 66, 68, 73 and 81 of the Employment Act 2006, regulation 44 of the Employment Regulations 2011 and its own policies, the respondent while purporting to restructure the company sometime in March and April 2021 terminated the services of the complainants on account of redundancy without genuine reasons,” the petition by Centre for Legal Aid on behalf of the 13 former employees for NMG reads in part.
According to the group, there was no fair consultation process done before carrying out the termination of their services, a move they say didn’t give them chance to be heard.
“In particular, the employer unjustifiably concealed the criteria it purportedly followed in reaching the decision to abolish some positions while retaining others in the same organisational structure and in selecting the complainants as the unfit employees who had to be laid off for redundancy or other concealed reasons.”
The group says the termination was in violation of the Employment Act 2006 when Nation Media Group unconscionably purported to exclude its liability to pay them due compensation for the unfair dismissal.
They now want the KCCA Labour Office to carry out an inquiry into their grievances and issue appropriate orders.
Consequently, the KCCA Labour Office has written to the Managing Director for Monitor Publications Limited asking him for a response to the complaint by the company’s former employees.
“This is to bring to your notice that Centre for Legal Aid filed a complaint on behalf of their clients for what they stated as unjustified, unfair and unlawful summary termination. If you can settle this matter to the satisfaction of the complainants without reference to me, please do so otherwise I shall be glad if you will let have your comment on the same issues at least by May,24, 2021,” Michael Baruch, the KCCA Labour Officer wrote to Monitor Publications Limited.
The complainant against Monitor Publications Limited comes a few weeks after 31 New Vision employees, in the same manner, complained to KCCA over violation of their rights in the recent restructuring process.
“In breach of sections 4,23, 27(1), 58(3), 58(5), 59(4), 73(1) (b), 81, 85(1)(b) and 87(a) , of the Employment Act 2006 and regulation 44 of the Employment Regulations 2011 and its own policies, the respondent(New Vision) while purporting to restructure, the company sometime in February 2021 unilaterally and unconscionably decommissioned the complainants from the status of permanent employees to that of temporary employees with new job descriptions and other particulars without prior and adequate consultation, “the complaint to KCCA says.
The New Vision employees say they were not given employment benefits and allowances accrued under the unfairly terminate contracts.
The group also accuses the company of breaching the Employment Act 2006 when it discontinued paying their NSSF benefits, a move they say was meant to defraud not only them but also public authorities like Uganda Revenue Authority and the National Social Security Fund that will invariably receive less than their usual or projected collections.
According to the restructuring plan, New Vision employees are required to sign contracts changing their status from permanent to temporary contracts and the move started in February during the reign of former CEO, Robert Kabushenga.
Last week, the KCCA Directorate of Gender Community Services and Production asked New Vision Printing and Publishing Company Limited to defend itself over the said complaints.
“I have to bring to your notice the substance of a complaint made to me by your above named former employee stating as attached through their representatives of Centre for Legal Aid. If you can settle this matter to the satisfaction of the complainant without reference to me, please do so otherwise I shall be glad if you let me have your comments on the complaint latest 18th May 2021,” the letter by Irene Nabbumba, a labour officer to the New Vision Managing Director.
New Vision is now expected to defend itself on the matter before May,18, 2021.
Last month the labour office at KCCA halted the staff restructuring process that the New Vision until the complaint is determined.