AT THE CENTRE OF STANDOFF: Former Crane Bank

The Bank of Uganda (BoU) is likely to be involved in three cases in court relating to the controversial sale of former Crane Bank Limited (CBL) to its rival Dfcu Bank in January 2017 at only Shs200 billion, having injected in CBL taxpayers’ money of about Shs478 billion as liquidity support and other costs.

The transaction above left over 4000 terminated by Dfcu Bank and they now intend to sue both Dfcu Bank and BoU, according to Isaac Ssemakede, the lawyer for the affected former employees of CBL who each is claiming for at Least Shs120 million in compensation for what they say unfair termination, breach of contract and discrimination.

“We are seeking further permission to include BoU in the suit,” he said, quoting the Auditor General’s recent special audit report of bank of Uganda on defunct banks in which BoU says about Shs5.1 billion had been paid to former CBL workers as terminal benefits. However Workers say the money they were given as salaries cannot add up to that amount.

The victims’ lawyer Ssemakade says Dfcu Bank acted unfairly by terminating the employees of CBL, having acquired them as it bought off CBL. He says the termination didn’t cut across the board as it targeted only former CBL workers, leaving behind those originally hired by Dfcu Bank.

He says it was a ‘classic discrimination’ and that at the same time breached the equality principle. “Dfcu should have terminated all workers across the board, but they terminated only CBL workers,” he says, adding that the commercial bank violated the Employment Act of 2006.

He says having taken of CBL on January 25, 2017, Dfcu started with the termination of 300 CBL workers in the process that was carried out in phases without considering their terminal benefits as required by law.

Douglas Opio, the Executive Director of Uganda Employers Federation (UEF) said his organisation is discussing with Dfcu Bank to see if the issue can be handled out of court, though he noted that the former CBL employees needed a public hearing as regards their termination.

“Protection of an employers is as good as protection of an employee,” Opio said, adding that they are trying to protect both sides especially that Dfcu Bank is an important player in the Ugandan economy but that workers’ rights must be protected at all times.

Opio pointed that most employers in Uganda have been found culpable of their decision to terminate workers because they don’t follow the laid down procedures as well as terminating workers without facts.