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DISGRUNTLED VISION GROUP EMPLOYEES HIRE LAWYER ISAAC SEMAKADE TO DRAG GOVT MEDIA COMPANY TO KCCA COURT

By Mulengera Reporters 

A group of seniors and leading scribes comprising what ideally can be termed as the core editorial team for the state-owned Vision Group have exhibited their welfare-related aggrievement by instructing leading Kampala public interest litigation lawyer Isaac Semakadde to institute legal proceedings against their employer. The very long list of complainants comprises of what one can appropriately refer to as “who is who” at the country’s leading media company. 

You have the leading names and employees working for almost all the platforms comprising the Vision Group (people you wouldn’t expect to have any welfare-related aggrievement) including the likes of Isaac Omoding, Milton Olupot, Charles Etukuri, the much-dreaded investigator Chris Kiwawulo, Jacqueline  Nalubwama, David Lumu, Moses Mulondo, Gerald Tenywa, Samuel Kasirye, Cecilia Okoth, Bukedde’s Ahmed Mukiibi, John Bosco Kiyingi,  Presidential photographer Maria Wamala, Apollo Mubiru and Tadewo Bwambale..

Others are photo editor Roderick Ahimbazwe, crime reporter Simon Peter Masaba, Wanyama Wangah, David Tibekyinga, Arinawe Pius Keeya, Lillian Babirye, Brian Sekamate, Kampala Sun head Emmanuel Sejjengo, Geoffrey Mutegeki Araali, Rebecca Rugyendo, Annet Nakate, Betty Amamukirori, John Masaba, Kizito Musoke, Maurice Okore and Henry Sekanjako. This must make everyone concerned about the future of Vision Group very frightened because these senior editors and senior reporters are clearly opinion leaders in their respective areas of specialty. They are seasoned, experienced and the very best this talent-constrained country currently has. They join leading court reporter Ondante Okanya who dragged the same employer to court using the same Semakadde law firm months earlier.

They are protesting work place-related mistreatment and want the labor arbitration authorities in this country to intervene and restrain the impugned actions by the Vision Group management. They have jointly lodged heir complaint with the KCCA Labor Office which is as good as reporting in court except that these days the law and prudent practice rules require petitioning the lower tribunals first and only coming to the Ntinda-based Industrial Court by way of reference or appeal in case of failure to reach an amicable settlement or displeasure with the Labor Officer’s decisions (as the case may be).

This simply means the matter could end up being referred to the Industrial Court in Ntinda and beyond should any of the parties so wish especially be dissatisfied with the conduct of proceedings or the administrative decision of the KCCA Labor Officer.

Briefly the aggrieved senior scribes’ case against their otherwise well-paying employer is as follows: the company recently occasioned a restructuring exercise during which their rights, as stipulated in both the Constitution and the relevant labor laws e.g. the Employment Act, were blatantly violated and trampled upon. That many of them were inappropriately decommissioned from their original employment status as the company went about implementing its very controversial restructuring exercise that commenced in February 2021.

They want the KCCA labor officer to inquire into the circumstances and reasons why the company unilaterally altered their employment status from “permanent” to “temporary” leading them to suffer job security-related anguish, uncertainty and detriment. To its own default, the company didn’t adequately consult the complaints yet they are such key stakeholders in the affairs of the business which the state owns up to 51% shareholding.

That they are empowered by law to have consented to the alteration of their job descriptions which curiously wasn’t done in total breach of the relevant provisions of the law. That arbitrary conduct by their employer deprived the now ranting staff members of chance to have their resultant severance allowances and terminal benefits paid as envisaged under the relevant laws of the land.

They want their prior employment contract status reinstated or else the company gets compelled to pay them colossal sums of money in damages to deter such future maltreatment. The aggrieved senior scribes cite a multiplicity of the Employment Act’s basic provisions that were allegedly breached by the company as the top bosses went about their illegal acts leading to unlawful alteration of the original employment terms.

They assert that the KCCA labor officer must intervene to prevent management from depriving them of chance to continue having “legitimate expectation” of being uninterruptedly employed by the same state-owned company till they each clock retirement age. That the company’s breaches are not only contrary to the relevant laws but also the provisions of Vision Group’s own HR Manual and internal HR policies and practices. That the manner in which their job descriptions, status and deployment were altered is detrimental not only to them as individual employees but also to statutory bodies of government like URA and NSSF which risk realizing less projectable collections from them (regarding monthly statutory payments) than would have been the case if the impugned violations hadn’t occurred at all.

They also fault their employer for being discriminatory in the way the impugned restructuring exercise has been rolled out because, in absence of a clear criterion that was being followed, it’s hard or actually impossible for them to ever understand why different employees were treated or affected differently as the reorganization-related decisions were being made.

Such discrimination and unequal treatment is actually prohibited not only in the Constitution under Article 21 but also under the relevant labor laws. The disputed changes at the company impacted on many welfare-related things for the now aggrieved employees including fatally altering their expectations relating to wages, allowances, job titles, benefits, terms of service, contract terms, work durations and deployments.

And this is how their public-spirited attorney Isaac Semakadde protests this maltreatment in the complaint that has since been lodged at the KCCA labor office while disclosing the breached provisions of the law: “In breach of sections 6(1) and 6(7) of the Employment Act 2006, the employer has conducted the impugned restructure and/or organizational development in a blatantly discriminatory, opaque, unjust, unequitable, degrading and demeaning manner. For instance, the employer concealed the criteria it purportedly followed in imposing the respective durations, job titles, wages and benefits among other terms or conditions in the new fixed term contracts, and so acted arbitrarily by giving preferential treatment to some employees at the expense of others.“

The youthful lawyer adds: “Most painfully and inexplicably some employees on fixed term contracts have been promised contract gratuity unlike others. Pursuant to sections 11(1) C), 12(2), 13, 93(3) and 93(4) of the Employment Act 2006, the complainant-employees hereby request your esteemed office(a) To carry out an inquiry and issue appropriate orders to ensure that the relevant legal obligations are strictly followed and aggrieved employees made whole; (b) To institute civil or criminal proceedings before the Industrial Court in respect of the contraventions of the Employment Act 2006 hereby complained of; and (c) To protect the employees from victimization or other occupational detriment by the employer as a result of the instant complaint.”(For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994, 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us at mulengera2040@gmail.com).

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