12 April 2014

East Africa: EAC Staff Frown At Work Contracts

Employees of the East African Community (EAC) and institutions have raised a red flag on their working conditions, saying they are not favourable for their long term social security.

They told President Uhuru Kenyatta, who made a two-day visit to EAC headquarters recently, that they are specifically not happy with the contract terms which do not guarantee them of pension.

Speaking on behalf of the 200-plus employees of the Arusha-based EAC secretariat and its organs, the Director of Human Resource and Administration Joseph Ochwada said the permanent staff only served on two contract terms and stop at the end of their tenure without pension.

He further told the Kenyan leader, who visited the EAC headquarters in his capacity as Chair of EAC Heads of State Summit, that due to the skewed scheme some of the employees of the Community have had no salary increment for the last six years.

He added that the contract terms of employment adopted by the Community recently limited their tenure of working period for the majority of staff to only two five year each terms of a maximum 10 years.

"At the end of their tour of duty at EAC, many of them cannot be absorbed into other areas in their respective countries", Mr. Ochwada told Mr. Kenyatta during a meeting between the visiting head of state and the employees.

EAC, its organs and institutions under it have close to 300 employees, many of them professionals. Majority of them are working in Arusha, the EAC headquarters. Others are serving with the Community institutions located in other partner states.

These are Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC) based in Kisumu, Kenya, Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization (LVFO) located at Jinja, Uganda, Inter University Council of East Africa (IUCEA), East African Development Bank (EADB) and Civil Aviation Safety and Security Oversight Agency (Cassoa). The latter three are located in Uganda.

The chair of the EAC Council of Ministers, the policy organ of the Community, and Kenya's minister for EAC Affairs Ms Phyllis Kandie said impression by some people in the region that EAC staff were among the highest paid could be illusionary.

She said Cassoa was losing its aviation experts to foreign airlines because of favourable remunerations offered by the latter. Recently also an official who was coordinating aviation matters at the EAC secretariat in Arusha left the job for greener pastures abroad.

EAC Secretary general Dr. Richard Sezibera added that the conditions of service were also not favourable for the judges at the East African Court of Justice (EACJ), an organ of the Community.

He said by 2016/2017 about 70 per cent of the EACJ staff, including the judges, will exit after reaching retirement age or for those on contract will have their tenure ending.

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