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500 Pearl of Africa Hotel staff run to labour union amid sack threat

In a new development, top city hotel, Pearl of Africa Hotel, has terminated over 500 staff in a new revelation for a take-over by US Hotel chain (FILE PHOTO)

KAMPALA – Over 500 staff of Pearl of Africa Hotel, a luxurious 300-room hotel on Nakasero Hill in Kampala, have petitioned the Hotels & Allied Workers Union, protesting what they called unfair treatment after the facility ordered all of them to sign fresh contracts as casual labourers.

The hotel’s human resource manager, Mr Lawrence Kulanga, on September 1 issued a staff notice, indicating that a new investor will take over the facility next month and that as a result, they have all been put on temporary terms hence working as casual labourers.

The notice also indicated that those staff who agree to work as casual workers will be re-interviewed by the new investor and possibly taken on.

The decision has since angered the staff, forcing them to run to the labour union.

Mr Stephen Mugole, the general secretary of the Hotels & Allied Workers Union, confirmed that he has received a formal complaint on the matter and described the hotel’s decision as unlawful.

“For the current employer to deem the workers casual means he has terminated the services of the workers since they are subjected to new interviews,” he said.

However, Mr Mugole said that the union will now get in touch with the workers, the Ministry of Labour and the hotel management and by today will have a response to the hotel.

Aya Group chairman Mohammed Hamid on Tuesday confirmed that Pearl of Africa Hotel will trade as Wyndham Hotel Kampala starting next month. He said new operators require that the staff undergo interviews to ascertain who can be rehired as permanent employees based on the standards they display.

The development means that the hotel is changing names and management for the third time amid several financial challenges. It began operations as Aya and briefly adopted the Hilton Hotel brand before re-branding as Pearl of Africa Hotel.

In August last year, KCCA threatened to close the facility over failure to pay outstanding Local Hotel Tax arrears of Shs39 million. Wyndham has five hotels in four African countries comprising two brands (four Ramada hotels and one Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham) and 819 keys.

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