By Sania Babirye
The court of appeal has awarded a UGX2.6 billion compensation to Former employees of the Uganda Railways corporation(URC) after they were unlawfully terminated from their job between 1986 and 2004.
In a case that has taken 14 years to be finalized, the 5104 claimants who were working in different capacities as civil Engineers, traffic staff , managers and accountants have been each awarded with 500, 000 shillings at a 17% interest rate from June 2004 till time full payment.
Three court of appeal justices led by the Deputy Cheif Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo have delivered their ruling which partially benefited the corporation and the claimants who were awarded 2/3 of the costs of this appeal .
The justices have however declined to grant the claimant’s plea to have their their terminal benefits given to them under the pension’s Act.
The justices have explained that this can only happen if the claimants who are now frail and some old were public servants which was not the case.
The former servants had wanted their terminal benefits to given to them under the pension act because it would have put them on the same level and rate of payment as other public officers.
However, bylaw the claimants are paid their benefits under the corporation Act.
The court has also set aside other orders by the High court including paying the claimants bonus arrears for staff at Nalukolongo, refund on payments of house rent and other unapproved dues .
The compensation comes at a time when some of the claimants have lost their lives and will not enjoy the compensation awarded to them .
In may 2006, High court judge Okumu Wengi ordered government to compensate the 5104 pensioners for their termination.
In 2005, URC terminated the claimants services after it privatised cooperation which later sparked off protests by the aggrieved affected employees.
These demanded that they be paid their terminal benefits and pensions immediately .