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THINGS EX-UNRA BOSS REUBEN MUST PRIORITIZE TO SUCCEED AS NEW MD FOR UGANDA CLAYS LTD

By Mulengera Reporters 

Uganda Clays Limited (UCL) appointed Mr. Reuben B. Tumwebaze as its new Managing Director having previously worked as the Director of Road Infrastructure Protection at Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) and with prior experience from Hima Cement and Coca Cola.

His appointment comes after the board relieved their former Managing Director, Mr.  George Inholo and two other top Managers who included the Head of Human Resources and Support Services and Head of Production. But what indeed lies ahead of the new Managing Director? Does he even stand any chance turning round the fortunes of this ailing giant?

Inheritance of previous challenges

With the new Managing Director on board and having inherited several issues including poor performance, poor industrial relations and power struggles from the previous administration, his tenure, for many, will be measured on how prudently he tackles some of the lingering issues such as:

  • Growing of the revenues and re-aligning operations; including putting emphasis on the core departments of sales, production and procurement;
  • Addressing the critical issue of dividends as demanded by the shareholders;
  • Managing organization politics: by being in charge, steer and control business to solve unnecessary internal squabbles;
  • Managing industrial relations; where the previous leadership have left a number of pending labour cases against the organization.

The Kamonkoli Project

Lack of leadership: Many have argued that the recruitment and appointment of a branch manager at Kamonkoli is long overdue and should have been done in yesteryears. It’s believed that the recruitment of an overall in charge at the plant would address the issue of egos and performance as it may be the beginning of stability at the plant. The board therefore ought to recruit a residential person to monitor operations, check the excesses and steer the plant to productivity.

Management of the firing chamber: whereas the widening of the kiln should be considered a priority for the new Managing Director, the persistent safety concern arising from the cracks from the previous poor maintenance of the kiln should quickly be addressed.

The competency and skilling concern: In 2009 and 2013, the organization under the then head of human capital, embarked on a successful restructuring exercise and undertook drastic changes. Whereas this was implemented, recommendations were made which up to date have not been addressed. These required:

  • That the retained workforce is given an opportunity to enrol for further studies and upgrade the skills and competences;
  • That the organization allocates funds for skills enhancement of its already ill skilled workforce;
  • That they opt for multi-tasking and further merge most of the jobs;
  • That they outsource the non-core services that included the casual, security, transport services and so on.

Upgrading the Kajjansi Plant

With Kajjansi being the backbone holding the company, UCL will have to revive its glory and put in order its aging mother plant. Among others, the following should be addressed, namely:

  • Managing losses: an open eye ought to be put on three departments of procurement, sales and production. These departments have both negative and positive implications and the organization and the new leadership should read between the lines;
  • Quality question: this issue still remains one of the main challenges at the head office. The new management therefore needs to manage by handling the issue and train its densely casual population;
  • System watch: a lot can be uncovered if the new leadership puts emphasis on the heavily financed efficiency of the recently acquired Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software.

IMPENDING RESTRUCTURING

There is a looming restructuring which is expected in about two to three months. The organization also made a salary increment even when it is limping. It’s critical that the clean-up should not only reduce the numbers at the institution but addresses the persistent issues highlighted.

This upcoming downsizing follows the abrupt departure of three top management staff in March 2020 reportedly over poor performance, poor industrial relations and infighting over the top Managing Director’s job and the subsequent appointment of Mr. Tumwebaze as its new Managing Director.

OTHER CRITICAL AREAS

Leadership gap question: The challenges of the factory cannot be resolved with mere suspensions and selective termination of its employees based on arising factors. One of the major problems of this factory is the selective address of the skills and competence gaps at both Kamonkoli and Kajjansi.

Management under the watch of its board has for long maintained a section of the leadership team that lacks the competence and skills to run the (production department) at Kamonkoli factory; which is a key part of the business. To solve this, the organization needs an overhaul of the leadership team and review the management structure at the plant so as to pave way for a new and competent team to run the business and grow its revenues. Here, the appointment of a branch manager should be the first decision to be taken.

Mismanagement of company assets: Because of the security laxity and poor management, the organization has ended up losing assets that eat into its returns. Most recently, the disappearance of the motors at the Kamonkoli factory store in 2020 incident brought the business to a standstill thus forcing the factory to temporarily close for about two weeks. Inside sources indicate that this resulted from the connivance by a syndicate of employees. One wonders where the factory Manager was not to pave way for a fair investigation.

State of the Kiln (Firing Chamber): Currently, the production department is faced with a major crack in its firing chamber (kiln); an issue that puts the entire business at risk. With little attention given to this, the employees’ lives may be lost and the business may lose revenues. However, the question is, has management assessed the cracks at the kiln? Has the Occupation health and safety team analysed the dangers that require evacuating the workers? The Minister of Labour/ Labour officer and health inspectors ought to urgently intervene to rescue the situation before employees’ lives are endangered.

The kiln problem is also majorly attributed to the 2018 annual maintenance of the firing zone that was poorly done and covered up by production leadership at the plant. To worsen the situation, the kiln activities resumed before the ‘healing process.” This therefore worsened and damaged the firing chamber even more.  The main question is whether the people concerned were held accountable?

Poor industrial relations; UCL has of recent accumulated a number of industrial cases which have remained unresolved to date where employees have appealed to the workers’ representatives about the unfair infringement of their employment rights. Several appeals were tabled before the Union bodies and labour officers and these are yet to be resolved.

This sharp increase in industrial cases was attributed to the poor people management style by the previous management team which is said to have desired to eliminate the Union and any non-alleging staff so as to gain board favours. (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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