300 cancer institute staff ordered to reapply for jobs

Parliament Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa (C) poses for a photo with Uganda Cancer Institute officials after touring the East Africa Oncology Center of Excellence on November 29, 2022 in Kampala. PHOTO/HANDOUT

What you need to know:

  • However, affected staff say the move is a ploy by management to get rid of some of them. 

About 300 staff at the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) are restless after the management ordered them to make fresh applications for their current positions as part of the validation exercise.

 On December 27, Dr Jackson Orem, the head of UCI, wrote to all specified staff, calling for internal applications to facilitate validation by the Board.

Citing the Uganda Cancer Institute Act, 2016, Dr Orem indicated that “the purpose of the validation is to ensure that the institute formally appoints its own staff for efficient and effective performance of critical functions in line with the new mandate.”

 In a bid to implement the Act, he informed all staff that the Board had directed that Section 12 (b) of the act be executed through validation interviews for all staff clinical and non-clinical as shall be planned.

 The validation exercise, according to sources at UCI, will see the staff, particularly on the government payroll, moved from permanent and pensionable terms to contract basis, which has no job security.

 Ministry of Health spokesperson Emmanuel Ainebyoona declined to comment on the controversial validation exercise and asked Daily Monitor to speak to Dr Orem.

 Although Dr Orem didn’t respond to numerous phone calls, WhatsApp messages and SMS, multiple sources at UCI talked of “witch hunt” and “politics” targeting “unfriendly” staff.

 The memo has also left staff at the institute aggrieved, and on January 10, they petitioned the Permanent Secretary at the Public Service ministry.

The staff described the planned validation as a ploy to get rid of those who don’t agree with the way management is handling the state of affairs at the government health facility.

 “The purported validation is calculated to benefit [some people]… [yet] UCI employees have never been sensitised or oriented by the management about this purported transition process, leaving many employees in [perpetual uncertainties about their job securities,” the staff protest letter reads in part.   

 The staff letter adds: “It is also our request that the exercise be halted until the line ministry puts in place regulations to operationalise the Uganda Cancer Institute Act, 2016, so as to avoid unnecessary court battles.”

Staff fears

The Monitor investigations have revealed that staff, who have been appointed by various service commissions on permanent and pensionable terms, are fearing to lose their gratuity and pension should they leave their main stream public service and join UCI as per the validation exercise.

 “UCI terms and conditions of service are not favourable since employees would be working on contract basis and with what we have seen happen to some of our colleagues here, working on contract has no job security, something that most employees are fearing,” a staff, who didn’t want to be named, said.

This publication understands that the validation exercise is a new development and the staff received the first batch of communication on December 22, with the instructions that the applications should be received latest by January 13 and the second batch of the communication came in on January 4, with January 20, as the deadline for receiving applications.

Dr Orem had directed that “the applications should be accompanied by the following, copies of relevant academic and professional certificates and transcripts, letters of appointment, registration certificates and valid practicing licenses where applicable, detailed curriculum vitae and National Identity Card and the deadline for receipt of applications is January 13, 2023.” 

According to Dr Orem, errant staff would be automatically considered as having decided to remain with their current employment status and accordingly, the institute will communicate as appropriate.  When contacted at the weekend, Ms Catherine Bitarakwate, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Public Service, neither denied nor confirmed receipt of the UCI staff petition.

“…I don’t have any answers if there is a law that the board at Uganda Cancer Institute is implementing. An Act is a legal instrument, so if the management are basing this on the validation exercise, then there is nothing I can add,” Ms Bitarakwate said.

 Sources in the Ministry of Health told the Monitor that the exercise started with about 93 administrative staff  and that it is to affect about 280 staff on government payroll.

 Dr Samuel Oledo, the president Uganda Medical Association (UMA) in a telephone interview, said they hope the validation exercise is simply a quality control check.

 “Uganda Cancer Institute is a highly specialised area and the purpose of validations is to try to build a system for productivity, since UCI is going to be centralised in all regions,” Dr Oledo said.

  “Staff should not be worried, as long as you know you came into the system well, these people are just coming in to check who is who, who does what, so what those staff think that they will be put on contract basis is not true because the employment document specifies the terms and conditions under which one is employed,” he said.

Affected departments

 •        Engineering

•        Human Resource

•        Accounts and Finance

•        Kitchen Staff

•        Stores and Supplies

•        Procurement and Disposal

•        Security

•        Office Supervisors

•        Public Relations

•        Medical Social Workers

•        Drivers