Ex Employees Want Their Benefits And Judge Sides With Them
The drama for the exiting telecom company, Orange Uganda is just getting started in it’s last months as a telecom operator in Uganda. Last week former employees of Orange Uganda sued the company through the legal services of M/S OWEN MURANGINRA & CO Advocates to recover their benefits as stated in their appointment letters from Orange Uganda before the sale if affected. And on 24th September the Judge Hon. Lady Justice Lydia Mugambe in presence of both parties placed a temporary injunction on any transfer of the 95.37% shares and operating licenses between Orange and Africell Holding until the French based firm sorts out it’s mess.
The Applicants of the case where formerly employed by Hits Telecom, which was taken over by Orange Uganda Ltd and their contracts where transferred to Orange Uganda limited. These retired applicants now demand the company their retirement benefits as stated in their contracts before it officially exits the market. It reads in their contracts that :
Upon confirmation of your employment with Hits Telecom, you Shall be eligible for the company’s contributory Retirement Benefits Scheme. This scheme is presently undergoing review and is being evaluated for presentation to the Board for approval.
“No evidence that the Orange employees sat on their rights”
Orange through the current CEO Mr. Poujol, claims that this clause only meant that the suing party would be eligible for retirement benefits on confirmation, but there was no obligation created by Orange to pay the said benefits. He indicates that Orange Uganda is not willing to pay these benefits as it sees no obligation to do so.
But the judge responded and sees this as a no brainier case, and states that when Orange Took over Hits Telecom in 2008, it obviously inherited this obligation to pay retirement benefits by virtue of S. 28 of the Employment Act for 2006. And there is no evidence that the Orange employees sat on their rights as they still bring their action within a year from the cause of action after learning of the share purchase by Africell from Atlas Service Belgium which is under the Orange Group.
The judge also wrote that the plaintiff makes a clear case in their submissions and according to her findings they have a high chance of success in case of a trial. She further states that currently Africell Holding SAL and the Applicants of the case have no contractual obligation for the retirement benefits. And in her discretion granted the injunction on the sale pending the final determination of Civil Suit 321 of 2014.
The official ceremony for the sale is scheduled for Monday 29th September 17:00 London time in the UK and we are still not sure if the ceremony will go ahead as scheduled after this new development. As of Friday this week, we learnt that Orange Uganda Limited has appealed the case and at the same time the lawyers representing the two sides are trying to negotiate a deal (out of court).
All court documents are public information and we have the screenshots of proceedings below,