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Sunbelt factory on the spot over poor working conditions, sexual harassment

Part of the hall of residence at Sunbelt factory.

Jinja, Uganda |  THE INDEPENDENT | Casual laborers in Sunbelt Factory in Jinja City have accused superiors of sexual abuse and failure to adhere to the minimum working conditions. The employees raised the complaints during the meeting the Jinja District Worker’s representative on Friday.

Some of the casual laborers accused their Chinese bosses of touching the private parts of female laborers during supervision, which undermines their human dignity. They also complained that the hall of residence in the factory houses over 400 casual laborers who lack mosquito nets and access to medical care.

Rose Apunyo, one of the casual laborers claimed that one of her bosses attempted to rape her on July 30th, 2020.  “What I went through was despicable. I woke up and realized that a man was undressing me in the middle of the night. I immediately shouted for help and he fled from the hall,” she said.

Apunyo said despite reporting the matter to police, she has failed to follow it up because they are confined in the factory. Immaculate Pajobo, the Jinja District Worker’s representative, says although they were able to collaborate Apunyo’s claims through interaction with witnesses management dismissed the claims as baseless.

Pajobo says that they conducted an impromptu inspection of the factory premises where they picked up several complaints from the casual laborers and plan to engage management.

Another casual laborer told URN on condition anonymity for fear of reprisal from his superiors that they are forced to sleep in the same hall with their female counterparts.

“We have been confined here for close to four months. We sleep on old boxes and bed sheet offcuts. But worst of all they have forced us to share the same hall with our female counterparts for all this time and whoever attempts to complain is fired immediately,” he said.

He also accused management of forcing them to work double shift without increasing their daily wages. Joshua Bagoole, the Male Workers’ representative, says management has been directed to allow workers commute from home, which he says will relieve disgruntled employees of stress.

Brian Madibo, the Manager Sunbelt factory, only said without divulging details that all the issues under contention have been handed over to police for investigations. Sunbelt is involved in weaving, dying, printing and sewing of textiles to produce finished products like bedsheets, bed covers, pillow cases and quilt.

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