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Employees of Chinese construction company resolve to return to duty

Some of the employees listen to the KCCA team after the meeting

Kampala, Uganda |  THE INDEPENDENT |  The employees of China State Construction and Engineering Corporation Limited have agreed to resume work following a commitment by their employer to pay their National Social Security Fund-NSSF contributions and wage arrears. 

The company was contracted by Kampala Capital City Authority-KCCA to construct Nakawa-Ntinda, John Babiiha and Kabususu- Nunamwaya- Lweza roads with funding from the World Bank under the Kampala Institutional and Infrastructure Development Project.

However, on Wednesday more than 50 workers including machine operators, builders, carpenters, masons and laboratory technicians pitched camp at the Company warehouse in Ntinda protesting the failure by the company to remit their contribution to the National Social Security Fund-NSSF, none payment for overtime and failure to increase their pay after the probation period among other issues. 

Irenious Nawera, one of the employees told URN that since he joined the company in May 2019, his NSSF account has only been credited twice in May 2019 and June 2020 with about Shillings 37,000 each time.  An employer is mandated to deduct 5% of an employee’s salary and add 10% and remit the money to NSSF. 

Nawera earns Shillings 750,000 which means that the remitted amount only accounts for the 5 per cent deduction from his pay. Over ten other workers that URN asked said their accounts had never been credited.

To resolve the matter, KCCA officials led by Eng. Charles Tumwebaze, the Coordinator of KIIDP 2 held a meeting with the contractor, the Project Consultant- UB Consultants Limited and representatives of the aggrieved employees. Tumwebaze says they resolved that the company makes all remittances to NSSF and ensure that the money tallies with the contracts. 

The meeting also agreed that the contractor pays overtime and compensates the workers for their leave days spent on duty. According to their contracts, employees are entitled to annual paid leave of 21 working days. 

However, it was revealed in the meeting that the contractor committed to making an extra payment to any employee who doesn’t take leave. This would mean that an employee gets a full salary and extra for 21 days. A number of employees earn a wage calculated per hour, eight hours a day.

Although employees agreed to resume work they are still dissatisfied with how contracts are handled. They signed contracts indicating that their pay would rise after successful completion of the probation period.

For instance William Asiimwe says he was recruited on a six months contract. In there, was a month’s probation period, after which, his contract would either be cancelled or maintained depending on the assessment.   The contract also indicated that he would earn Shillings 1,875 per hour while on probation and then between Shillings 1,875 and 2,375 per hour upon confirmation.

Asiimwe says he has never been relinquished of his duties and yet his pay has not increased. He presented to URN a certificate issued to him by the company praising him as an excellent staff.

When our reporter asked Tumweza why the contractor maintained employees on probation, he explained that confirmation on the job was based on an assessment by the contractor. He explained that KCCA couldn’t do anything about the contracts issued and employees appended their signatures.

Although Tumwebaze talks about assessment as a tool of promotion, the contract indicates that after probation, one can be fired if they do not perform well or be confirmed when they excel. However, many employees only possess contracts and no confirmation letters. Even after a month of probation, they keep on duty earning the same pay and yet not fired.

CSCC officials declined to explain why they neither issued confirmation letters to employees nor fired them after the probation period as stipulated in their contract.



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