A year later ex-Vodafone staff yet to be paid salary arrears, benefits

Thursday May 16 2019

Mr Isa Ssekitto (R), the Kampala City Traders

Mr Isa Ssekitto (R), the Kampala City Traders Association spokesperson, cuts a tape during the launch of the now defunct Vodafone outlet. Former employees are seeking compensation in salary arrears and terminal benefits. FILE PHOTO  

By ISMAIL MUSA LADU

Kampala. At least 150 former Vodafone employees have expressed frustration over the continued delay to be paid their salary arrears and terminal benefits amounting to Shs3b.
Speaking during a meeting of the former employees, which sought to discuss a way forward, Mr Derrick Sebbaale, the Vodafone former managing director, described the delay as painful, urging the employees to be patient until when the liquidation process is completed.
Vodafone was liquidated a year ago with some employees and suppliers going for months without pay.
In February last year, in a notice of issue of interim protection, the Civil Division of the High Court appointed Mr Donald Nyakairu as provisional administrator after Vodafone applied for bankruptcy protection.

Mr Nyakairu early this week told Daily Monitor that whereas he appreciates the need to fasten the process, the former workers must exercise patience as he sees through the liquidation process.
“Look, it is in my interest that the employees get paid their arrears and terminal benefits which all together add up to about Shs3b. Issues of liquidation take time, but I am working hard to see that they are paid as soon as possible,” he said.
Mr Nyakairu also noted it was difficult to mobilise money to pay former employees and creditors because Vodafone, as a company had no assets that can easily be disposed of to raise money.

The company, he said, has equipment, which “cannot be sold domestically unless as scrap and this is something I am not going to allow”.
“We are looking for market outside Uganda and once the [equipment] is bought the employees will be among the first creditors to be paid,” he said.
However, he could not put a date on when he hopes the process will completed, noting that he was also seeking tax refunds of about Shs1b from Uganda Revenue Authority, which will form part of the required cash to pay creditors.

Shs707m held by UCC
The former staff also wondered why Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) is holding about $187,500 (about Shs707m), which the company had advanced as a guarantee for some investments that were never completed, yet the money would be used to pay some of their arrears.
The Shs707m, which is remitted in form of a standby letter of credit ensures that investment contracts are fulfilled.
However, Mr Ibrahim Bbosa, the UCC head of public and international relations, said the money had been part of the licence fees that had been pegged to some of the technical plans that telecom had committed to put in place.

Appointed
In February 2018, in a notice of issue of an interim protection, the Civil Division of the High Court appointed Mr Donald Nyakairu as Vodafone’s provisional administrator. The process of liquidation is still ongoing.

iladu@ug.nationmedia.com

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