The Sunday Mail
A nasty fight has erupted at the National Employment Council (NEC) for the Engineering where workers are accusing board members of corruption and maladministration. This has resulted in the workers petitioning the Ministry of Labour, Public Service and Social Welfare and the Registrar of National Employment Councils (NECs) demanding intervention to restore sanity in the organisation.
The board stands accused of implementing cost-cutting measures which only affect workers while benefits of board members remain unaffected.
The workers also want the board to upgrade long-serving employees instead of hiring new staff, a move they say demands high perks that are bleeding the organisation’s coffers.
According to the petition dated October 14 2013, the NEC for Engineering employees accused the board led by Mr Ray Ndlukula of plotting to impose a board member, Mr Washington Wakasemwa, as the accountant. Part of the workers’ petition reads: “Workers feel there is no need to have an accountant’s post since all accounts are smoothly carried out by the senior bookkeeper, which has always been the case ever since the organisation began in 1948, creating this post is like adding a cost at this time where cost cutting is prudent.
“Filling the general secretary’s post threatens the organisation since the same post has two suspended people whose cases are still to be concluded; that is, Mr Jaja and Mr Biggy Tsopo, who were suspended under unclear circumstances.”
However, Mr Ndlukula declined to discuss the matter professing ignorance over the allegations against his board.
“I am not aware of the issues raised by the workers,” he said curtly.
The employees alleged that the board was failing to deal with the case of the organisation’s chief executive officer, Mr Jeremiah Jaja, who was suspended in 2012 over corruption allegations.
Mr Jaja is still on the organisation’s payroll and has so far siphoned US$87 000 as the board dithers on finalising his case. The workers allege that Mr Jaja was being protected by some board members.
“Some board members, for example, Mr (Wise) Garira, owe Mr Jaja favours; in the issue of Garira, his company AFA Fire Engineers had a debt of US$32 000 in unremitted subscriptions written off.
It now has an additional US$18 000 in subscriptions unpaid,” read the document.
The AFA Fire Engineers’ debt was cancelled though a letter dated 13 January 2012 in which NEC for Engineering acting general secretary Mrs Angeline Kanyemba wrote: “With reference to the above, please be advised that EMF Medical Aid Society has made a decision to write off AFA Fire Engineers’ debt of US$32 205,22, this being subscription arrears accumulated from February 2009 to December 2011.
“This followed a meeting held in December 2011 between AFA Fire Engineers representatives and our general secretary in which their challenges were discussed.”
The workers also recommended that the board should be dissolved immediately as a number of workers have been victimised over “petty issues”.
They allege that one of the employees was fired for allegedly misappropriating a paltry US$154 but he was later acquitted by the courts last year.
The board members are also said to be reluctant to pay the compulsory medical aid contributions for employees.