By Andante Okanya and Innocent Anguyo
Makerere University kitchen staff, recently redeployed to other departments by the administration, have petitioned court demanding sh2.5b terminal benefits.
Last week, they filed a suit against the university at the civil division of the High Court in Kampala.
They are protesting a move to introduce outside catering services, before payment of their terminal benefits.
The aggrieved staff, numbering 237, are protesting the university administration’s move, saying it is a breach of contract.The redeployment letters are dated June 17, 2014.
The university has nine halls of residence, with three for female and the rest for males.
The suit was jointly filed by the staff umbrella workers entity National Union of Educational Institutions of Uganda, Makarere University, and National Organisation of Trade Unions.
“The plaintiff members employment contract was breached by the defendant posting them to new departments but under different job descriptions which is contrary to the appointment and in contravention of the employment laws,” the plaint reads in part.
Through Waluku, Mooli and Company Advocates, they contend that they learnt about management’s move in an advert placed in the Daily Monitor newspaper dated February 15, 2014.
The notice contained a detailed outlay of outsourcing of catering services in the halls of residence.
Subsequently, the umbrella workers entity queried the administration, which promised to address their grievances.
The workers lament that they are redundant and unable to perform in the new postings, as they lack requisite professional knowledge, skills, and expertise in the new appointments.
Additionally, they are demanding that the university be condemned to costs of the suit, and an interest from the date of judgment until full payment.
Court documents show that in a letter dated May 19, 2014, the university’s human resource office, communicated to the staff chairperson the decision on the fate of his colleagues.
Consequently, the staff union petitioned the Labour ministry in a letter dated June 13, 2014. The ministry responded five days later, with a promise to intervene.
Court has asked the administration to file its defence within 15 days from the date of receipt of the summons.
In the summons signed by the court’s assistant registrar Eleanor Khainza, dated July 15, 2014, the administration has been cautioned to heed, lest judgement is passed without its input.
The office of the university secretary David Kahunda, has confirmed receipt of the court summons. New Vision has seen a copy of the summons received by the office, stamped and dated July 16, 2014.
The staff have also filed an application to block the administration from effecting its plans, pending the hearing and determination of the main suit.
Court is yet to set a hearing date.
Makerere University kitchen staff demand sh2.5b terminal benefits