By Our Court Reporters
High Court in Kampala has issued a temporary injunction against National Organisation of Trade Unions (NOTU) activities until a case filed against it by its Chairman General Usher Wilson Owere is disposed off.
Justice Musa Ssekaana the Head of High Court Civil Division made the ruling on Monday January 23 2023 after NOTU Chairman General Usher Wilson Owere sued NOTU and six others for illegally suspending him during a General Council session held at Hotel Africana in Kampala on November 15 2022. Owere was represented by counsel Peter Jabweli Okello.
The six respondents are Workers MP Christopher Peter Werikhe, Stephen Mugole, Richard Bigirwa, Mauku Moses (Ag Treasurer General), Badaru Barbara (Deputy Treasure General), and Amiti Tom (Deputy Secretary General).
Owere had been voted out for allegedly failing to manage three council meetings that had been organised to settle leadership wrangles at NOTU.
The council appointed Stephen Mugole, the then deputy Chairman General as Acting Chairman General. The council also appointed Richard Bigirwa, the General Secretary Uganda Bottling Bakers, Millers, and Allied Workers Union as the acting Secretary General for NOTU replacing Peter Christopher Werikhe who resigned having joined politics as member of Parliament for Bubulu West.
24 Unions out of the 34 that are affiliated to NOTU passed the resolutions which among others suspended Owere.
Justice Musa Ssekaana ruled that no further actions or activities should proceed by NOTU, and the newly appointed leadership until the main case filed by Owere is disposed off. “I order that there is a stop for everything for now until this case is concluded. Everything is on hold, the status quo remains as before,” ordered Justice Ssekaana.
He said that he received Owere’s petition on November 6 2022. “I would have stopped that Council meeting, but I was mindful of the expenses, the hotel bookings they might have done and only set January 23 2023 as the date for hearing the case,” he said.
Justice Sekana added , “I did this, because to me, nothing can’t be undone by court, perhaps only in the case of death. The world is not ending tomorrow. Let’s all hold any activities until this case is ended.”
“I now put a temporary injunction staying any action on the applicant (Usher Wilson Owere) until the main case is disposed. I allow rejoinders and responses when the case comes for mention on February 28 2023,” he ruled. Justice Ssekaana warned the parties that should they proceed and do any activities before the case is dissolved, they will carry their own cross as individuals.
Owere ‘s lawyer -Counsel Jabweli welcomed the injunction and warned the respondents to respect the court orders.
In the case Mr. Owere contends that the actions of the respondents in attempting to remove/suspended him from his office as Chairman General violated the law (Labour Unions Act) the NOTU Constitution and that he was not accorded a fair hearingi.
After establishing the statusquo ie that the Applicant Mr. Owere has allegedly been suspended and referred to the Disciplinary Committee, the Court ordered that no further action be taken against him pending final determination of the main suit.
This means that whoever attempts to take any further action against Owere will be acting in violation of the order and will be in contempt of Court and there are sanctions against such conduct. The Court then gave timeliness for each party to file their pleadings/ submissions. The case will come up for mention on February 28,2023.
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