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I NEED PROTECTION: DISTRESSED JOURNALIST OKANYA SAYS AS HE SEEKS IGG INTERVENTION

By CJ Etyang

New Vision Journalist James Andante Okanya has sought for protection from the Inspector General of Government (IGG) as court prepares to determine a case in which he has sued New Vision Printing and Publishing Company Limited challenging the planned staff restructuring at the firm.

The Labour Office at the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) in March halted the planned restructuring of staff at the New Vision Printing and Publishing Company Limited until a complaint filed by Okanya is determined.

According to Okanya, his decision to file a petition against the planned staff restructuring at the company he has served for 12 years may subject him to what he refers to occupational detriment as a result of his disclosure.

He says he qualifies as a whistle blower who should be given protection under section 8(1) of the Whistleblowers Protection Act, 2010. The New Vision scribe is challenging intention by New Vision Printing and Publishing Company Limited to alter his terms of employment from permanent to temporary.

“I request for your intervention in this matter in terms of section 8(1) of the Whistleblowers Protection Act, 2010. An earlier complaint was ignored by the company management. I therefore reasonably believe and fear that the employer will take no action,” Okanya in a letter to the IGG said.

The scribe, through his lawyer Mr Isaac Ssemakade in February wrote to New Vision Printing and Publishing Company Limited notifying the publishing firm that the journalist would not sign a new contract that the company had issued him, and that Okanya would proceed to take legal action against the Industrial Area-based firm if it did not abandon an act of “forcing” Okanya to sign the new contract.

He, consequently, through his lawyer, Ssekamadde of the Centre for Legal Aid wrote to KCCA’s Labour Officer to intervene and halt the restructuring exercise which he says converted his permanent employment contract to a temporary one in changes aimed at cutting operational costs.

“I hereby ask for your protection,” he told the IGG in the letter. Okanya in his complaint is claiming infringement of sections 4, 6(1), 6(2), 27(1), 58(3), 58(5), 59(4), 73(1)(b), 82, 83(1) and 85(1)(b) of the Employment Act 2006. He also claims the restructuring scheme is discriminatory, tyrannical, exploitative, manifestly and unlawful, oppressive and unjust.

The journalist says if the reforms by the company are not halted, the development will defraud and deprive New Vision Printing and Publishing Company Limited employees of their severance allowances, compensation and other terminal benefits.

He says it will also deprive and defraud Uganda Revenue Authority, National Social Security Fund and the National Treasury of an immense amount in statutory taxes and contributions. The Uganda Whistleblowers Protection Act, 2010 provides for the protection of whistleblowers from being dismissed, suspended, denied promotion, demoted, made redundant, harassed, intimidated, threatened or subjected to discriminatory or other adverse measure by the employer or a fellow employee. “A person shall not be subjected to any victimisation by his or her employer or by any other person on account, or partly on account, of having made a protected disclosure,” the Act says. (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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