Over 322 former workers of Apollo Hotel (now Sheraton Kampala Hotel), under their umbrella Organisation, The Association of Former Workers of Apollo Hotel (TAFWAH), have petitioned the Government, calling for urgent intervention after unscrupulous individuals registered a similar organisation and are on the verge of receiving their sh3.5b terminal benefits.
In their petition to the director general of Internal Security Organisation, Col (rtd) Kaka Bagyenda, the TAFWAH members, led by their chairperson, Abdul Kadil, accuse the Police of failing to assist them after they reported the case. The workers said following the privatisation of the hotel in 2001, a total of 322 workers formed TAFWAH to engage the Government and secure their terminal benefits.
“We successfully brought a civil action suit against the Attorney General and court gave judgment in our favor to the tune of sh3,528,048,829,” Kadil says in a letter to Bagyenda.
Our reporter has seen a consent order entered into by the 322 workers of Apollo Hotel, allowing Stanley Kazooya, John Rwamatego, Maria Walugembe and Grace Bagaya to bring a representative action against the Government. However, after Kazooya and Rwamatego died, the group met on February 2012 and in a special resolution at California Bar and Restaurant, appointed Henry Makula and Pater Kakiboona as the new leaders.
We have also seen a High Court Judgment arising from civil suit 0064, dated November 10, 2014, which was brought by Kazooya, Rwamatego, Walugembe, Bagaya and 318 others against the Attorney General and Apollo Hotel limited in which court awarded the former workers damages.
However, in a strange twist of events, the workers’ representatives claim that Brian Kabunga, John Kitui, Bosco Musisi and Margaret Namyalo who were neither beneficiaries nor representative of the other employees in court, took over the decreed terminal benefits.
They have requested the permanent secretary in the finance ministry for payment through their private bank account number 2202913165. Efforts to get a comment from Kabunga and accomplices proved futile.
However, UGANDANZ is in possession of June 2018 registration documents purportedly from the Uganda Registration Services Bureau, which indicate that Kabunga incorporated a company and proceeded to register it, even when the same company with the same initials TAFWAH, had been registered in 2012.
A list of the former workers published on page four of Bukedde newspaper on March 27, 2004 does not, for instance, have some of the names like Kabunga as employees of Apollo Hotel, yet he appears as the new chairperson of the group that now wants to be paid.
Kadil points out in his letter that, “Kabunga, who is the mastermind of the said fraud, is not a beneficiary of the money.”
Sources in internal security confirmed they had opened investigations. Kenneth Mugambe, the director of budget at the finance ministry, told Saturday Vision they would investigate the claims once a formal complaint is brought to them.
In November 2005, former workers of Apollo Hotel Corporation (AHC), now Sheraton Kampala Hotel, sued government, seeking payment of over sh4b in terminal benefits retained by the Privatisation Unit for over 20 years ago. The former employees claim that between 1981 and 1982, AHC laid them off under the pretext that it was being renovated.
The former workers further contend that when they wanted to be re-instated in 1999, the Government decided to pay their salary from 1982 to 1987. The workers were also seeking terminal benefits, interest, damages and cost of the suit from the year 1987 amounting to over sh4b. In their suit, they claimed they were supposed to be paid more than sh6b, but only sh1.9b was remitted to them