By Our Reporter
KAMPALA [SHIFTMEDIA] The ‘push and Shove’ at the National Organization of Trade Unions (NOTU) is back on the lime light.
This time it is regarding the booting of current NOTU Secretary General Hon Peter Christopher Werikhe who doubles as the Member of Parliament for Bubulo West Constituency in Mbale.
According to top NOTU leadership, Werikhe as the SG is mandated by the NOTU constitution to be in office 24/7 (8am to 5pm) daily and not to engage in partisan politics.
“The fact that he stood for Bubulo West under the NRM party flagship already contravenes our constitution, that bars members from engaging in partisan politics,” explained Brother Robert Matuku, the NOTU Governing Council member.
Matuku noted that that notwithstanding, the constitution demands that the SG seats in office daily from 8am – to 5pm. “How will Werikhe who is elected as MP some 400 kms away from the Kampala office make it daily yet he has to be engaged in his constituency, parliament plenary and committee sessions? He hasn’t done much as Secretary General to serve the members,” said Matuku.
He described as unfair allegations made my Werikhe that he is being witch hunted.
“I am also from Bubulo, we might even be brothers with Werikhe, why should I witch-hunt him? It is the constitution that we are simply implementing,” he said in an interview on NBS TV on Tuesday.
Chaos Mars NOTU Council Meeting
At the NOTU General Council meeting held at the Abba Hotel in Kyaliwajjala Wakiso district, Hon Werikhe was accused of organizing a bunch of ‘goons’ to disrupt the meeting that sought to address the fundamental issues of NOTU. This meeting f0llows the May 2022 earlier one held in Masaka City to study the problems for NOTU’s underdevelopment.
According to Owere, the Council session was geared towards addressing the findings of the Masaka City meeting.
“Brothers and Sisters currently NOTU is at cross roads and how we manage our difference is very important to maintaining our unity especially in consideration of the fact that historical failures led to serious divisions which in turn negatively affected Trade Unions,” said Owere.
He told the Council that now is the time to prove themselves and to the world as men and women of integrity by respecting and upholding the constitution.
“We must demonstrate that our past failures shall not stand in our way to progress as we shall derive lessons from the same to move progressively,” said Owere.
He noted that in his quest to advance the divergent interests at hand, the stakes had been raised putting his office on spot.
The heavily guarded conference room, according to Owere was to ensure sanity, peace, calmness and safety of all members present.
The previous meeting held at the same hotel turned rowdy and the chairman General was confronted and nearly beaten up during the melee.
“We are here to address the constitutional crisis affecting NOTU. As you are aware our Brother Werikhe Christopher Peter sought leave and joined partisan politics on which ticket he was elected Member of Parliament for Bubulo West,” noted Owere. “As you know, our constitution bars our secretary General from active participation in partisan politics, besides, his election as MP, has tremendously reduced his availability to function on full time basis as required by the NOTU constitution.”
Vacuum Hits NOTU
When the post of Secretary General remains vacant after Werikhe Christopher leaves, there shall be a huge vacuum in the worker’s organization to fill. The post of Treasurer General that fell vacant after Brother Legise Mwanika resigned after he became the Councilor for workers and District Speaker, is yet to be filled.
Similarly, the post of the Deputy Treasurer General hitherto held by the Sister Mercy Matende, who died two years ago is yet to be filled. “Her death created a vacuum in that office which has never been filled to date. These issues require that we examine our constitution properly to come up with a way forward that will guarantee our continuity,” said Owere.
Werikhe on Spot
The NOTU Chairman General Usher Wilson Owere in an interview after the council meeting noted that many activities were behind schedule due to inadequate time allocated to NOTU activities by Werikhe.
“During the Council meeting at Abaa Hotel Werikhe told the Council that he had resigned as Secretary General, only to later rescind his mind and tell the media that he is still the SG,” said Owere.
Owere said his next step will be to take the mantle and write to Werikhe to leave the position of Secretary General.
“As Chairman General I am writing to him (Werikhe) to hand over office. If he doesn’t then we shall resort to other means,” said Owere. Efforts to get Hon Werikhe were futile as he declined to pick our calls.
Who is Next?
After Werikhe is out, who will be NOTU’s next Secretary General? Watch this space.