KAMPALA – Staff at Price Water Coopers-PWC Uganda are reportedly discontented and complaining of things like favoritism, failure to heed the provisions of the firm’s own HR Manual, intrigue and financial exploitation by way of underpayment amidst being overworked by the audit firm.
There is simply too much pressure on each and every employee to deliver so much client work in such a very short time, a thing that could even impact on the quality of the resultant audit or even tax advisory reports. The firm has over 160 employees some of whom are compelled to stay in office up to 2am (basically to work over time without attracting any allowances) because the organization is fatally understaffed.
There are also concerns that, whereas the firm officially collects colossal sums of money from its wealthy clients like USAID, Global Fund, Gavi, the UN Agencies involved in refugee operations, URA and almost all commercial banks in Kampala, the employees who do the actual donkey work are paid peanuts.
It has now taken much courage for a one Barak Tulinaomubeezi, who has opted to challenge the PWC imprudent and draconian management decisions in court, and has become an instant hero for many aggrieved employees quietly grumbling.
Lodged by Isaac Ssemakade’s Center for Legal Aid, a Bombo Road-based law firm renowned for spearheading such litigation on behalf of the vulnerable employees seeking to take on their giant employers, the instant complaint shows that Barak’s woes began in July 2020 and the whole thing later escalated at the beginning of 2021.
Apparently, the relevant managers at the firm considered Barak undesirable and generally developed negative bias towards him after realizing he had a journalism background. They considered him a rumor-monger who potentially might blow up the company’s cover and expose its closet skeletons someday.
According to the formal complaint papers from the Sezibwa Road-based KCCA Labor Office perused by Mulengera News, Barak was frustrated through denial of work assignments which created an impression he was non-performing because at the end of the day, in a setting like PWC, one’s output can only result from executing the roles he or she has been assigned. In the instant case, the psychological and emotional torture clearly aimed at frustrating the 28-year-old Barak into resignation out of PWC was orchestrated by a one Norbert Nuwahereza who is the staffing manager of the PSG department where he falls.
Barak’s case relates to constructive dismissal whereby the very proud and stinking rich PWC partners and top managers don’t believe in outright dismissal of employees. Once they are tired of you, for one reason or another, they will use your relevant manager to mistreat and cause you to emotionally become broken and dismiss yourself through voluntary resignation.
Norbert Nuwahereza would make occasional phone calls just to mock and bully the young man who never understood why the manager was always out to get him. That it was a well calibrated work place campaign aimed at frustrating Barak into resignation and it was orchestrated by Nuwahereza with the acquiescence of other superiors like PWC Human Capital Manager (basically HR) Shivan Karemera, Clive Mayombwe, partner Dowson Kalemba and Uthman Mayanja, the lawyer’s complaint on the KCCA file asserts in part. That this sustained campaign of witch hunt escalated mostly between 8th January and 19th March when Barak got overwhelmed and proclaimed his resignation.
The written complaint filed by Center for Legal Aid, dated Friday 23rd March highlights ways in which the PWC has breached several provisions of the Constitution and the Employment Act regarding the Barak mistreatment. That Barak wasn’t only victimized but was also subjected to very malicious and embarrassing performance appraisal sessions (technically known as PIP) yet his apparent underperformance resulted from his immediate supervisor’s curious refusal to assign him work.
The law firm further contends that their client Barak was also “unjustifiably denied one month’s pay in lieu of notice and four months’ pay as severance allowance on cessation of employment among other terminal benefits.” That even when the firm is theoretically known to be among the best when it comes to enforcing excellent pro-staff values, policies and standards, PWC managers threw everything to the wind in order to fix Barak, the lawyers further assert. That all this makes PWC liable to paying colossal sums of money in compensation to atone the detriment Barak suffered as a result of the wrongful actions of the 5 managers who the lawyers sarcastically refer to as the “five bullies” in their documentation on behalf of their client.
That Barak suffered not only emotional distress but also unwarranted disruption in his career and financial progression. That the very humiliating ordeal the young man endured at the hands of the indifferent PWC managers resulted into loss of dignity and personal self-esteem. That he also endured huge financial anxiety because the servicing of the salary loan he had contracted with one of the city banks was disrupted and made complicated because of the very anomalous circumstances under which the impugned managers made impossible his continued stay in the PWC employment.
The KCCA Labor Officer is being implored to urgently inquire into Barak’s complaint, general grievances and the conduct of the 5 PWC managers and accordingly make the appropriate orders to atone the detriment the young auditor has endured due to fault not of his own. The young man, who sources say is determined to go all the way even if it means sacrificing himself so that future employees lead a more productive life working with PWC, is also demanding billions of shillings in compensation. The almost unprecedented litigation risks badly bruising PWC’s otherwise very good image and globally-acclaimed brand status.
According to KCCA’s Labor Officer Irene Nabumba, Francis Kamulegeya in his capacity as PWC Senior Partner has since been dully written to and notified about Barak’s complaint and an opportunity to deescalate things through the firm diplomatically engaging with their aggrieved employees still exists. Nabumba’s office will only launch full scale investigations into the complaint on getting notification from Barak’s lawyers that path hasn’t yielded.
Nabumba says Kamulegeya and other PWC partners (Uthman Mayanja, Dowson Kalemba, Pamela Natamba & Cedric Mpa Obusingye) have up to Thursday 6th April to resolve the issue internally or else her Labor Court commences full blown inquiry to the total detriment of the PWC brand reputation. By 6th April, Kamulegeya is supposed to have written back notifying KCCA Labor Officer Nantaba of the steps being taken thus far to amicably respond to and address Barak’s grievances.
To earn better, one must get promoted first and there is widespread discontent that promotions processes aren’t adequately transparent as some of the managers (supposed to recommend people for promotion) are accused of favoring their relatives, friends, cronies and sometimes girlfriends. There is a manager who is famous for only assigning curvaceous girls work on all projects that come through him leaving many wondering why average-looking girls are never perceived to be brainy enough by this sexpest manager. The situation is even worsened by the fact that the four partners can’t easily be accessed by the aggrieved lower rank employees who must channel their concerns through the very managers causing this aggrievement.