MBALE – Three Mbale School of the deaf workers dismissed from the school without being given a fair hearing have challenged their sacking saying it was vindictive and unfair.
Mr James Mwayafu, Richard Wandiba and Mr Julius Wananda have since filed an application to the district Labour office to intervene.
In their complaint to the chairman Board of governors Mr Stephen Masika, the workers want the BOGs to dismiss their sacking, put the headmistress of the school Sister Rose Nelima to order and ask her to re-read the laws governing employment in the country.
They want the Labour Office in Mbale to quash the sacking, reinstate them because it was wrongful termination that did not allow them a chance for fair hearing at all.
According to sources close to the school, it is alleged that the trio instigated others into a peaceful strike at the school in demand for their wages that have not been paid for the last thirteen months since last year.
Mr James Mwayafu who has been a private guard at the school admitted they went on strike on 20 October because they have not been paid for thirteen months in row and that the headmistress is abusive.
“The school advertised in July 2017, we applied and we were recruited in July on 2017 but even when we have demanded for our appointments, we have never got them up to date. And whenever we tell her about it, she says it is only Educated people who are supposed to get appointments,” said Mr Mwayafu.
He added that even for the last thirteen months, they have not been paid any single cent despite their demands.
A letter of dismissal accessed by PML Daily dated 21 October signed by the headmistress says the trio was dismissed for neglect of duty, misbehavior and lack of respect which the trio describes as tramped up charges to justify her wrong act.
When reached for a comment, the headmistress Ms Rose Nelima could not deny nor accept that she had dismissed the workers without giving them a fair hearing.
“Mafabi, are you the headmistress of this school? Are you an inspector, are the CAO or DEO, why do you follow up things in this school? Why are you monitoring this school, can you leave me? And those people coming to you, are they sane?” said Sister Nelima.
But the chairman Board of governors whom she has chosen to regard as the acting chairman Board of governors Mr Stephen Masika confirmed the dismissal of the three members of staff at the Mbale School of the deaf.
“I even have some of the letters of dismissal here and the letters of the workers asking me to intervene. And I think this was bad, the headmistress should have given them a fair hearing and waited for the board to sit in order to take a decision,” said Mr Masika.
He revealed that these are not the only workers without appointments and that effort to have appointment letters for all workers in the school have fallen on a deaf ear as she usually tells the board “I am going to do it.”
He confirmed that most casual workers in the school including teachers who are not on payroll have not been paid for close to thirteen months.
“And every time we ask her to pay as a BOG, she says she has paid but does not produce evidence of payments, For the strike, this was a constitutional right, it was peaceful and the workers want to bring it t our attention because we had a meeting in the school,” said Mr Masika.
This comes at the time, CSOs want the government to finalize the enactment of the Minimum Wage Bill 2015 to ensure that Ugandan labor is protected from exploitation through the payment of very low wages in bid o protect workers’ rights.
A lawyer Mr Yusuf Mutembuli of Mutembuli & Co advocates held that the remedy for unfair dismissal must be found strictly within the Employment Act, namely a maximum compensation of three months wages and one month’s wages for failure to hold a fair hearing.
He said under the Employment Act 2006, the law on summary dismissal says in sub-section[ii] Summary dismissal is justified when an employee, by his conduct shows that he has fundamentally broken the contract of service. See Section 69 of the Act.
“Therefore , even if the workers conduct (or misconduct) is regarded as one that amounted to disregarding the essential conditions of the contract of service such as to be regarded as having fundamentally broken the contract of service and therefore justifying summary dismissal, the worker has to be accorded the right to a hearing,” said Mr Mutembuli.
He added that the right to a hearing is guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda under Article 42 and that Article 44 (c) also provides that the right to a fair hearing cannot be derogated from.
The workers have dragged the headmistress Mbale school of the deaf and Chairman Board of Governors to the labour office and are demanding to be paid all their money they have worked for and full costs there in.