The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has summoned officials from the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development to explain the whereabouts of Shs39b gratuity funds of former employees of the defunct East African Airways Corporation (EAAC).
Kadaga issued the directive this morning after receiving a petition from the former East African Airlines employees who are demanding for their accumulated gratuity amounting to Shs39bn since 1977.
In their petition, the former employees revealed that when the East African body collapsed in 1977, the sister governments made an undertaking to pay all the employees at the time for loss of office, but that the Ugandan government failed to effect it’s part of the bargain, prompting legal action in 1993.
“In or about 2006, government paid to us 60% of our entitlements and then refused to pay the balance, which we successfully challenged in the courts of law and orders were made to pay to us all our money,” the petition reads in part.
The petition adds: “Even worse, the Ministry of Finance in a most ridiculous and insensitive manner has insisted that before any other former employee of the East African Airways can be paid, those who have already received their payments should return in person to the Ministry of EAC Affairs with their bank statements to confirm that they were paid.”
The petitioners noted that they followed their search for the money with an Order of Mandamus and in August 2016, a small bunch of money was released by the Ministry of Finance, through the Ministry of East African Community Affairs, that saw only 15% of the total number paid, leaving the other 85% totaling 530 people not paid to date.
Further, the petitioners decried the manner in which the Finance Ministry is handling the matter saying that despite the fact that President Yoweri Museveni issued an Executive Order to have the money paid, the Ministry has been adamant.
East African Airways Corporation was an airline jointly run by Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda which started operations in 1946, but was dissolved in 1977 after relations among the three countries deteriorated. The corporation employed about 620 people.
“We are all persons of advanced age who lost our jobs forty years ago. Many of us are ailing with terminal and other serious diseases after going through a lifetime of strain and pain to fend for our families. We are too frail and old to resort to the streets or violence,” the petitioners lamented in their petition.
In response, Speaker Kadaga promised to hold a meeting with the finance ministry officials to get explanations on why the ex-EAAC workers haven’t been paid to date.
The development comes at a time when Government announced plans to revive Uganda Airlines, a move that is said will cost US$400M.