Former workers of Crane Bank who were dismissed following its take-over by DFCU Bank have petitioned Parliament over what they call unfair dismissal.
Isaac Ssemakadde, the legal representative for the group said that in 2006 there was a new Employment Act which guarantees continuity for the employees of a company acquired by a new employer. However, he added that this had been violated by DFCU and Bank of Uganda (BOU) which acted as the mediator.
In exercise of its powers as a receiver, Bank of Uganda transferred the liabilities (including deposits) and physical assets of Crane Bank to DFCU Bank after the latter competing with 13 other financial institutions.
Ssemakadde said that in this year’s (2018) Auditor General’s report, BOU promised to reimburse DFCU for any former employee of Crane Bank it would fire after the takeover, within two months.
“BOU went behind the backs of former employees of Crane Bank and entered an agreement promising to pay DFCU all terminal benefits and payment dues that DFCU would incur when it terminates the workers,” he said.
He added that DFCU laid off 400 former staff of Crane Bank by in March 2017.
“However after that, we learnt from the report of the Auditor General that DFCU submitted a request for reimbursement of terminal benefits worth shs5.1 billion,” Ssemakadde noted.
“We wonder if this indemnity guarantee that BOU gave DFCU does not violate the Employment Act and whether they used all that money to compensate the former workers,” Ssemakadde said, adding that the inquiry into the matter by the Auditor General has been, “an eye opener”.
He requested that the workers are heard by the Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) Committee for a fair hearing.
“We want the Committee and Parliament to know that our rights were violated as former workers of Crane Bank; Parliament should summon the leaders of BOU to show cause as to why they should not be held liable for the way we were treated,” he said.
Ssemakadde added that the reasons given for firing many of the workers were not substantial.
“An IT technician was told that he cannot transition from Windows XP interface to Windows 9 interface which is something simple,” he added.
Hon. Margaret Namubiru Rwabashaija (NRM, Workers MP) said that the way the workers were treated was unfair and demeaning.
“It is unjustifiable the way these people were fired even with the Employment Act in place and unfairly compensated; I have pledged my support,” she noted.
The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga thanked the workers for their vigilance and bringing the issue to light.
“This is the right time because the Committee on COSASE started examining the report of the Auditor General this week; I will push this matter to them for their attention so that you get a fair hearing,” she said.
Kadaga noted that this matter will have an impact on the legal regime in the banking industry and the government will have to review the issues arising from it.