Njeru, Uganda | URN | Njeru Municipality labour officer Godfrey Mpaata has been accused of allegedly conniving with factory owners to block the compensation of injured workers.
About 30 former employees of Paramuko Steel Factory and Yogi Steels Limited, both located in Njeru municipality, accuse the officer of rejecting their compensation bid, even with evidence that they sustained permanent injuries in the line of duty.
The workers say that their contracts were terminated while they were still on treatment. However, the labour officer declined to endorse their payments on the ground that the damages due to them were to cover the cost of treatment, which had already been provided.
Six of the workers lost their hands, one lost his limbs and currently moves in a wheelchair while others are battling constant headaches and chest pain after being hit by heavy metals inside the factories.
But the workers are now blaming the labour officer for declining to facilitate arbitration between them and their employers in line with his mandate. The labour officer is responsible for, among other roles, arbitrating industrial disputes between employees and employers, prosecuting cases related to violation of labour laws and industry regulations as well as handling worker’s compensation cases.
Edison Jjumba, a former worker at Yogi says that his bosses recommended that his hand be amputated as opposed to spending money on treatment after the accident. However, when he rejected their recommendation, he was terminated from work, yet Mpaata still refused to help him seek compensation.
George Opio, the father of Willington Oromcam who was hit to death by a hot metal at Yogi Steel says he was promised 36 million Shillings in compensation by the factory manager but was forced to sign for 17 million Shillings by Mpaata. He adds that Mpaata took 1 million from the partial payment, to allegedly facilitate the process.
Another injured worker Ronald Bumali notes that he was ejected after a piece of metal got stuck in his ears affecting his ability to hear. He, however, says that his pursuit for compensation was frustrated when the labour officer instead blamed him for leaving the factory before he was compensated.
The Officer in Charge of Communication at Yogi Shaban Sanje says that all compensations can only be processed after an assessment by the labour officer. Njeru Municipality Town Clerk Sharifah Nakintu confirms receiving complaints from the injured persons against Mpaata and says that investigations into the matter will soon be commissioned.
Mpaata declined to respond to this publication about the accusations.