Uganda: Court Halts New Vision Staff Restructuring Plan

The Labour Office at Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) has halted the staff restructuring process that the New Vision Printing and Publishing Company Limited intended to carry out until a complaint filed by one of its employees is determined.

This follows a petition by Mr James Andante Okanya, a writer for the New Vision newspaper, after he was informed that his employer intended to alter his terms of employment from permanent to temporary status.

In a letter dated February 10, Mr Okanya's lawyer, Mr Isaac Ssemakadde, informed the New Vision Printing and Publishing Company Limited that his client would not sign a draft contract that the company had offered him, and that he would proceed to sue the company if the employer did not "cease and desist from further acts of coercing our client to sign the impugned contract".

Mr Ssemakadde further wrote: "Your decision to unilaterally alter our client's terms of service to his detriment is illegal and contravenes provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda 1995, the Employment Act, the Labour Disputes Act, 2006 and international law."

Mr Okanya did not receive the response he wanted from his employer and petitioned the KCCA Labour office.

Mr Okanya alleges that the terms of the temporary contract which he was offered and refused to sign are "dubiously concealed, and unlawfully deprives the employee of his severance allowance and other terminal benefits earned under the existing contract."

In a letter dated February 26, the labour office addressed the New Vision Printing and Publishing Company Limited thus: "This is to notify you and require you to file a defence or explanation to this complaint within a period of two weeks after receiving this letter.

In the meantime, pursuant to the powers vested in this office by sections 12(2), 13 and 93(2) of the Employment Act 2006, you are hereby directed to halt the ongoing restructure pending the resolution of this dispute."

Sources at the labour office told this newspaper on Thursday that the company had not yet filed its response.

Issue

Contracts

Some New Vision journalists we spoke to said they were also required to sign contracts changing their status from permanent to temporary contracts, with the arrangement set to take effect on February 1.

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