CHAOS LOOMS AS VISION GROUP DRIVERS, PRODUCTION WORKERS JOIN TOP REPORTERS TO DEMAND FOR BETTER EMPLOYMENT TERMS
By Mulengera Reporters
Led by Nelson Nemba Lwanga Smarts, an influential manager in the all-important production department, a total of 35 Vision Group employees (who are foot soldiers doing the donkey non-editorial work to ensure the newspaper comes out every day) have joined the elites from the editorial department to demand action against their employer.
Through the Center for Legal Aid’s Isaac Semakadde, one of Kampala’s much-sought after attorneys on employment law-related matters, the aggrieved employees have commenced processes aimed at having their employer sanctioned for wrongful and inappropriate conduct manifested in victimization and maltreatment of workers contrary to the provisions of the Employment Act and other laws.
Ordinarily, they would have filed their case straight with the High Court demanding action against their insensitive employer but have had to begin with the KCCA Labor Officer who, by law, must be petitioned first before proceeding to court. Matters relating to labor disputes can only proceed to the High Court or even beyond by way of reference (basically appealing) in case of dissatisfaction with outcomes of the Labor Officer’s intervention.
Like their fellow Vision Group employees (the giants from the elite editorial department) recently did (before their Daily Monitor colleagues fell suit doing the same) https://mulengeranews.com/vision-group-boss-don-wanyama-ordered-to-defend-himself-in-staff-mistreatment-case/ https://mulengeranews.com/top-monitor-ntv-scribes-gang-up-on-md-tony-glencross-dragging-him-to-court-for-rights-violations/, the 35 production (factory) Vision Group workers have, through their sponge-coiled lawyer, written to the KCCA Labor Officer in charge of Kampala Central Division calling on him/her to inquire into the conduct of their bosses which has seen them breach several provisions of the law besides treating certain employees more favorably than others while effecting the staff restructuring and reorganization which began in February this very year.
Referencing on Sections 11(1)(c), 12(2), 13, 70, 71(2), 93(3) and 93(4) of the Employment Act, the aggrieved employees contend that by initially withholding information relating to how the staff restructuring/realignment exercise would affect each one of them, the Vision Group acted imprudently and abused their trust. That all this has since exposed them to endure extreme emotional, mental and financial detriment and they are now imploring the Labor Officer to leverage on powers vested in his or her office and appropriately order a reversal of the wrongs being complained of. That the Vision Group bosses must be compelled to comply with the requirements of the law regarding maltreatment of workers.
That the Labor Officer should find it prudent and appropriate to make use of the Ntinda-based Industrial Court and institute civil or criminal proceedings against the CEO Don Wanyama and other Vision Group bosses for their continued blatant breaches of the Employment Act and other relevant laws governing employment relations.
CONTEXTUALIZING THE STORY
The background to the factory workers’ complaint and aggrievement against the Vision Group top hierarchy is that in February this very year, the company purported to carry out reorganization and restructuring of staff, a process during which all employees had their status arbitrarily altered from permanent to temporary. The staff assert this alteration, which ought to have been preceded by a consultative process that was never undertaken, entitled them to terminal benefits which the company never granted. The process is also being disputed because, in total contravention of the Employment Act, it wasn’t transparently conducted.
Staffers, many of whom have worked for the Vision Group production department for close to 3 decades, were never informed about the criterion that had been followed to alter their employment status, work duration, job titles, job description, wages and resultant benefits. Some employees were treated more favorably than others and the criterion being followed was never disclosed, a thing that made many to feel deliberately targeted for marginalization and victimization.
Semakadde’s written complaint on behalf of the aggrieved employees was received by a one Mark Ibra Simwende on behalf of the Vision Group’s legal department. Dated Tuesday 11th May, the two page complaint was also copied to the Vision Group CEO Don Wanyama who is barely a month in office having replaced long-serving Robert Kabushenga.
To illustrate their point on the alleged discrimination and unequal treatment of employees, the aggrieved staffers through their lawyer assert that some of their fellow workers were curiously retained under very generous fixed term employment contracts which was accompanied with promises of gratuity payment, an arrangement from which majority others were excluded. They also want the Labor Officer to inquire into the circumstances why the Vision Group refused or failed to address their grievances internally, a think that could have deescalated the situation and prevented them from having to petition calling for his/her intervention.
The employees also implore the KCCA Labor Officer to ensure that for breaching the Employment Act and other relevant laws, with so much impunity, the Vision Group bosses concerned with the impugned victimization and other inappropriate actions are subjected to either civil or criminal proceedings through the Industrial Court. That unless the KCCA Labor Officer decisively intervenes, the discriminatory treatment of innocent staffers at the state-owned media entity will only continue unabated because the indifference with which members of top management are acting is simply too much.
The aggrieved workers also raise a red flag over the fact that statutory payments-collecting GoU agencies like URA and NSSF risk being defrauded as their projected collections from the Vision Group employees will most likely be diminished to the detriment of both the employees and the two entities themselves. That the manner in which the February 2021 restructuring was occasioned makes the employees’ future uncertain at the company.
While reflecting on the heartlessness of the Vision Group apex bosses, one of the aggrieved production department employees said: “Many of the jua kali colleagues, like drivers and factory workers, haven’t known any other employer for the last more than 20 years apart from Vision Group. They have sustained that main factory for all these years and you can’t tell them to expect no terminal benefits when in that period, they have lost body parts to the company whereby their limbs, arms, fingers and legs have been chewed off by some of those Vision Group machines.”
Besides Smart Nemba Lwanga, the other complainants in the instant case include Madina Namubiru, Esther Naluswata, Fred Nsenye, Roy Kayiwa, George Kilama, Ronald Kayiba, Moses Kiyingi, Hussein Muwaya, Godwin Lamony, Denis Alakhu Obula, Robert Makanga, Enock Asiimwe, Eddy D Ddumba Yawe, Musah Musisi, Ronald Opira, Marvin Kakonge, John Kasaija, Crispo Kiwalabye, Thormas Musisi Lukwakkwa, Naris Turindize, Robert Kyobe, Emmy Engoru Eyou, Emmanuel Natumanya, Mike Kiboneka, Joseph Okukwai, Micheal Nambale, Henry Kalumba, Alexander Tindihikayo, Harrison Mwanje and Moses Feefe Mubiru. Others on the latest listing of the justifiably disgruntled Vision Group employees include Timothy Murungi, Kato Kawuma, Alex Balimwikungu, Timothy Murungi, Nakitende and Fred Musoke.
Mulengera News understands that a staff meeting has been scheduled for Friday tomorrow when employees fear more cost-saving measures could be proclaimed and thereby make an already complex situation worse. It’s always a requirement and rule of prudent practice that the agenda for such meeting is communicated prior but none has been proclaimed so far only hours to the planned staff meeting about which many employees are very apprehensive. It will be Don Wanyama-era first staff meeting and one only hopes that the man from Masaba-land will, as CEO/MD, speak in a manner that deescalates things as opposed to creating more anxiety.(For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994, 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org).