20 November 2013

Uganda: IFJ/FAJ Condemn Sacking of 60 Journalists and Media Workers in Uganda

press release

The International federation of Journalists (IFJ) today has joined its African regional group the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) to condemn vigorously the sacking of 60 media workers including journalists in Uganda.

According to the Uganda Journalists Union (UJU) an IFJ/FAJ affiliate, Channel Wavah Broadcasting Services (WBS) a TV channel based in Kampala, capital city of Uganda, has sacked the workers in a major exercise that management says is aimed at cost - cutting.

"Sacking 60 workers is not the best way to cut costs. The sudden move is against the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and all other ILO standards". "We condemn the decision and call on the channel managers to set up discussions so as to seek the best way to arrange the situation," said Gabriel Baglo, IFJ Africa Director.

UJU said among the top staff sacked is the WBS TV managing director, and the management wants to retrench staff at the Naguru (East of Kampala)- based television from the current workforce of 140 countrywide to about 80 staff.

This major shakeup has also affected some programs, scrapped off the TV schedule, and program producers relieved of their duties. The development culminated in experienced and senior journalists to resign.

"Every worker has the right to protection against unjustified dismissal, in accordance with national laws and practices. This will not be considered as granted", said Mohamed Garba, FAJ President. "We call on the TV channel to reconsider the decision and engage a dialogue if not we will stand by our colleagues to bring the case to court".

UJU said the atmosphere on November 19 was tense as journalists and other media workers were in a somber state, and perplexed after a gatekeeper operating under instructions from "above" denied them access to the premises. All workers on the company "black list" were ordered to hand in their company identification cards.

But surprisingly none of the sacked workers has received any termination letter and they are still owed October salaries.

UJU President Ms Lucy Anyango Ekadu condemned WBS management for sacking workers without giving them notice in lieu of termination of their services. "Management violated workers' rights, and in particular the Uganda Employment Act Section 78, subsection (e) which provides for the right of the worker to press for any unpaid wages, expenses or other claims owing to the employee", Lucy Anyango Ekadu said. "The WBS management should have given workers a 30 days' notice in lieu of the termination, and should have cleared workers salary arrears," she added.

WBS management has called all sacked workers for an emergency meeting slated for Friday, November 22, 2013 to discuss how they would be paid salary arrears.

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