TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Ugandan Court Halts Dismissal of AGOA Workers

Friday, 24 October 2003

Source: New Vision (Kampala)

The Ugandan High Court yesterday stopped the dismissal of the striking girls at the Apparels Tri-Star factory.

The company makes garments for export to the US under the Africa Growth Opportunities Act (AGOA).

The interim order was issued by Justice Okumu Wengi after one of the girls and trade unionists filed an application. He said the dismissal would be valid only if Tri-Star paid the girls all outstanding dues and benefits and transported them back to their homes.

About 1,400 girls work at the factory.

Justice Okumu Wengi delivered the ruling at the High Court in Kampala. He said if the conditions were not met, the factory must wait till the main application for the temporary injunction was heard.

The court resumes with the matter next Friday and the main hearing is yet to be fixed.

An employee, Zauja Biryeri, the Uganda Textiles, Garments, Leather and Allied Worker' Union and the National Union of Trade Unions (NOTU), sued Tri-Star on Wednesday.

Their lawyer, John Barya, said if they won the case, Tri-Star could part with over sh500m.

Yesterday's court order was taken to the factory located at Bugolobi, Kampala, by Worker's MP Joram Pajobo and NOTU Secretary General, Lyelmoi Otong Ongaba.

However, Jinja Road Police Station chief Pius Mutabizi, commanding a strong Police force at the factory, barred the officials from meeting the management. He said he would hand the order to the managers on their behalf.

Yesterday's court action followed the termination of over 250 girls' three-year contract. Barya said the girls were working for 13 hours, instead of the mandatory eight, without overtime allowance.