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On duty all year round; The agony of having a no holiday job

 

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The country has been in a festive mood over the last three weeks, celebrating Christmas, a key holiday for Christians which is preceded by the end of the year, in the Gregorian calendar.

During the time, many offices have remained closed, with slow business, even for those that remained closed. It is a time for merrymaking and sharing pleasantries with family and friends, a great reunion even for those who could not travel to their villages throughout the year.

But even if that is the case for the majority, the holiday is just like any other day for some other vocations. Grace Aromburach, 35, a security guard in Kampala says that the season brings no uniqueness in a job where she celebrates no night, no weekend and no holiday, all year round.

Attached to Security Guard Africa (SGA), a private security firm, Aromburach, a single mother of three says she has not had any public holiday break with her family in the last seven years of service as a security guard.

“My family is used to my kind of work. Instead of being with them on such holidays, I have to work. Even on Christmas day, I worked. The… night duty guards also came late and I had to leave late, so I did not enjoy Christmas,” Aromburach told URN in an interview.

Susan Nyamwenge, another security guard deployed at Acacia Avenue says it’s a sacrifice to work on public holidays.  Now in her 12th year as a security guard, Nyamwenge says her family has already copped with her busy schedule and both her husband and children know the importance of her work.

Although duty on such days often comes with benefits like extra pay and overtime allowances, Nyamwenge says that she sometimes finds it difficult to balance the family expectations on such occasions and work.  She, however, hastens to add that workers in such critical service sectors have no choice but to provide the much-needed services to citizens.

Meanwhile, police officers who talked to URN said that they are duty-bound to protect the citizens all year round and as such, the holiday does not come with relief from work.

Uganda Police’s chief political commissioner and former spokesman of the force AIGP Asan Kasingye says these are the days when security is needed the most and so, no room for lax.

“On every festive season like Christmas, every police Officer is on standby class one… However, there are exceptional circumstances such as sick leave, compassionate leave and maternity leave,” Kasingye Said but hastened to add that despite these tight schedules, families should not give up on their members who serve in the forces.

“Understanding someone’s job is paramount. Some couples are happier even when one works at night. You don’t give up on someone as long as he/she loves the job, brings food to the table and contributes to society,” he added.

Dr Herbert Luswata, the head of the Medical Interns currently deployed at Kawempe National Referral Hospital, equally says that medics are under oath to take their patients as their first consideration and with this in mind, public holidays become secondary.

“People become sick on Christmas, new year, etc. More the emergency cases like mothers who need of Emergency caesarian section due to obstructed labour, or a man with Testicular torsion among others. This means that we the Doctors have to be available to attend to these patients,” Dr Luswata observes.

He adds that as for Medical Interns, they are expected to work from Monday to Monday and the festive season is no exception.

According to him, the result of this is that some times their family members choose to forget about them while others accuse them of being anti-social.

“A few times we truly miss our families and feel a bit depressed. It takes a lot of commitment for us to leave this life, more so, in a country where our pay does not reflect the value of services we provide,” he adds.

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