Kampala, 18th-January-2012; over thirty workers of Top television and Top radio have gone three months without being paid their monthly salaries.
Top TV and radio are located at Bwaise a suburb of Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, and are owned by the Christian Life Church.
The workers who talked to Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter said that they have not been paid their monthly salaries for the month of October, received half payment for November and none for December.
“I am one of the most senior employees at the station but I have not got my salary to date. Am so desperate now given this hard economic situation in the country.” The source said.
Efforts to talk to the two stations’ Managing Director Jackson Ssenyonga who is also the senior pastor of Christian Life Church were futile as he was reportedly out of the country.
He was due to meet the workers at 2:00PM on Tuesday 17th/Jan/2012, but the meeting did not take place as he was reportedly locked up in another meeting up to late.
“We did not get any updates from the management and each of us left one by one as time went on. We have not got any explanation as to why there has been no salary payment for such a longtime.” said another source.
The Top TV Station Manager, Charles Musana told HRNJ-Uganda that as a company, they are dedicated to paying their workers in time except when they have no money.
“We are so committed to paying our staff, but this being a private media house, we sometimes fail to raise the money in time, and as such the staff should wait. We last paid them on the 13th of this month (Jan). There could be workers with a one-and-half month arrears, but we shall pay them all.” Musana told HRNJ-Uganda.
However, some workers dismissed Musana’s version as ‘total lies’.
Top TV has over thirty workers. Top radio has a string of other upcountry stations including one in Mbale, Mbarara, Masaka, Rhino in Lira and SMJ formerly called Kampala FM which broadcasts in English.
HRNJ-Uganda has also learnt that apart from the top managers at the radio and television who have running contracts with the company, majority of the staff have no contracts at all.
“Yes it is true most of them have no contracts. It is because the Human Resource Manager who had been hired by the company left before handing the employees their work contracts.” Musana explained.
“HRNJ-Uganda has noted that for a very long period of time, journalists’ economic rights have been violated by their employers. The Constitution under Article 40 provides for the rights of persons to work under satisfactory conditions and these include remuneration. The Employment Act of 2006 also echoes the same. So as a rights-based organization, we have undertaken a research to establish the gravity of the matter and its effect on the media in Uganda. We call upon the employers in the media sector to respect and uphold the economic rights of their staff as we strive to strengthen the media in Uganda. It is also apparent that most of the freelance journalists , who in most cases contribute the most to journalistic works do not have contracts; this is a grave infringement to their rights” Noted the HRNJ-Uganda Programme Coordinator, Wokulira SSebaggala.