KAMPALA – As a child, whenever my dad used to give me less pocket money at school or cancelled some items off my shopping list, I viewed him as unreasonable. Sometimes he’d pull out a huge bandle of cash and just pull off a little, much less than I wanted and gave me. To me then, he was a stingy guy.
As a parent, I’ve not bought every toy, shoe or such fancy thing as my kids ask, not necessarily because am unreasonable but because these are decisions I make with due consideration of all circumstances.
This is the situation facing employers and employees in the immediate aftermath of COVID19. Only pragmatism on part of both parties will keep their relationship lasting.
Let’s take the example of Sanyu employees. Sanyu, which is part of the Ruparelia Group has got a serious hit on its income, which is now down by almost 50% you could say but the owner is very wealthy, a billionaire who shouldn’t reduce the salaries of employees.
Fine, but consider this. The man’s hotels have been devastated by COVID19, so has his Flower business, his Restaurants, gyms, etc. as a landlord, he can’t collect rent, because the tenants can’t pay. If he evicts then he’ll be deemed unreasonable.
The employment laws have dispute resolution mechanisms. But if in the middle of discussions the employees refuse to continue the discussions and even abandon work, do you expect the man to close the radio station as he finishes the discussions? What then happens to the advertisers? To the listeners?
It would be different if we are not faced with these situations or this disease. But here we are. We don’t even know when it will subside.
The problem with Ugandans we never seek proper advice before from qualified persons. If they had consulted a good lawyer, they’d have known two things. That industrial action is permissible but is subject to certain procedures, which in this case they didn’t follow. That in-fact the employment act anticipates situations where an employer can not pay wages and salaries. With that in mind they will have approached this situation reasonably. You are now likely to hear stories of “we were misled”
There’s a very rich man who owned a big hotel at Bakuli. Employees started disturbing him day in day out. He went on out of frustration and closed down the hotel. For the last almost 10 years. He left it there. People lost jobs but he has continued to live his life. He hasn’t lost sleep.
Any entrepreneur would totally understand. But most of the people complaining here don’t employ even a house girl.
These are desperate times. Like Eneke the bird would say, since man had learned to shoot without missing, I have learned to fly without perching.
I got on social media.
Julius Galisonga is a Kampala lawyer