By Our Investigative Reporters
KAMPALA, Uganda[ ] The rate of unemployment in Uganda is high, worrying and very depressing to think off, but getting hired and fired without being paid is even more worse.
On spot is one of East Africa’s leading human capital management firm, Q Sourcing Servtec Group , and a leading Online shopping platform Jumia Uganda.
We are exposing allegations of mistreatment of Ugandan workers, something that contravenes the Employment Act 2006, especially regarding termination.
Fired on Watsup
A group of 20 teary youths, majority aged between 19- 26 approached our offices for solace. The desperate youths were protesting the way their contracts with Jumia Uganda was indiscriminately cut short, after they were fired on ‘Watsup’.
“We had signed a two months contract, with Q Sourcing to provide labor for Jumia Uganda. Though the contract indicated payment of Ugx 500,000 per month, the first month shs180,000 was chopped off our wages with no explanation,” said the youths.
One of the workers, Ronald Wamono described the sacking as very unfair. “We were not warned at all, all I got was a message on Watsup advising me not to report to work. The next thing I was removed the staff Watsup group,” he said.
Susan Togo said they were sacked in groups of 4s. When they demanded to know why they were not paid at least for their second month as per the stipulated contract, no answers were forthcoming.
Unfair working conditions
The team described the working environment at Jumia Uganda as inhumane and harsh, for that matter. “We were split in two shifts, some working from 8.30am to 4pm, while others from 4pm to 12 midnight. At times the night shift team would work until 1am with no extra over time allowances,” said one of the fired workers.
Nyamata Daisy said that they were denied lunch at the work place unless they paid an extra shs3,000. “When recruiting us they promised us lunch and transport, but during lunch we were told costs shs10,000, the company pays shs7,000 , while we had to pay shs3,000. Those without cash of shs3,000 cant be allowed access to lunch.”
Muheirwe Stephen said those who worked until 1am were dropped and left at the main roads, putting their lives in great danger. “Some of us reside a distance from the main road, but we cant be dropped near our homes, we risk our lives as we head home in the wee hours of the morning,” said Muheirwe.
The disgruntled workers have hired the services of a lawyer and threatened to drag Q Sourcing to court for breach of contract.
What does the law say?
Joseph Okello a labour lawyer notes that under Article (12) (1) of the Employment Act 2006 , settlement of grievances, where an employer neglects or refuses to fulfil the terms of a contract of employment, or where a complaint or a labour dispute arises as to the rights or liabilities of either party under a contract of employment, the aggrieved party may report the matter to a labour officer.
Article 13 of the same Act empowers a Labour officer to investigate and dispose of complaints.
”Under the Employment Act, article 58 (Notice periods). it is very clear, a contract of service shall not be terminated by an employer unless he or she gives notice to the employee,” said Okello.
The counsel said such notices shall be in writing in a language that is understandable by the employee, and issued not less than two weeks, where the employee has been employed for a period of not more than six months but less than one year.
“The law is very clear: Where the pay period by reference to which the employee is paid his her her wages is longer than the period of notice to which the employee would be entitled under subsection (3), the employee is entitled to notice equivalent to that pay period,” explained Counsel Okello.
He explained that either Q-Sourcing Servtec Group or Jumia Uganda breached article 65, regarding termination without notice by the employer yet these were contracted workers each with two months working contract.
“Article 70 of the Act allows the sacked employees who have been summarily dismissed to lodge a complaint with the labor officer within six months after the date of dismissal, who shall seek to settle the matter in the first instance by mediation,” he explained.
Who are Q Sourcing?
Q-Sourcing Servtec Group is East Africa’s leading human capital management firm for growth-minded organizations.
They have been in existent for the last 16 years and operate in Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and South Sudan.
They offer timely support that enables businesses to transform in a fast-changing world of work by sourcing, assessing, developing, and managing the people, systems & technology that enable them to unlock their highest potential.
Management Declines to Speak
Our team reached out to a one Issa, whom the sacked workers said was their immediate supervisor at the Jumia Uganda Headquarters and warehouse in Bugolobi, but his phones were apparently off.
Our efforts to reach Joyce Kyalimpa the Human Resource and Administrative Officer Q-Sourcing Servtec Group met a dead end.
Similarly our emails to the Chief Executive of Q-Sourcing Servtec Group Patrick Mbonye wasn’t replied by the time we went to press.