Did you notice Emarine has been missing on the 89 Smart FM airwaves for some time now? If you didn’t, she has been off the airwaves. The reasons and circumstances that surround her absence have been one of the most kept secrets in the 043.
Emarine Lwetabe had until 25th January 2019 been an employee at the Nizam Road-based 89 Smart FM. For 7 years, Emarine hosted The Tea Break, Smart FM’s mid-morning show. On Friday 25th January 2019, Michael Muwanguzi, the Smart FM Station Manager signed off a letter that ended Emarine’s contract with 89 Smart FM, the broadcast station that had been Emarine’s career home for 7 years.
What happened; why the contract termination?
“Here’s the letter that ended my contract at Smart (FM). Miss Diana Nankwanga, a lady working at the Jinja Labor Office, delivered the letter to me,” said Emarine. She was responding to how she got to know about her contract termination. “The most hurting thing is that I received that letter when I was still in the Jinja Regional Referral Hospital. It was two days after I had given birth by emergency C-section. This was a time when I expected a visit by my colleagues and bosses,” she adds.
The letter in question points to previous engagements between Emarine and the 89 Smart FM management. The resolution of the engagements, was a company staff downsize in which Emarine was one of the affected staffers.
“I have worked for Smart (FM) for 7 years. I have a strong feeling Michael always had a problem with me. His new position gave me powers to make my life at Smart FM hard,” said a tense and emotional Emarine.
Emarine points to being denied access to privileges like the company car when it rained. She also mentions hiding the air conditioner remote was another part of Michael’s scheme to push her away.
“I fired Emarine but it was not because I, let alone anyone, had a personal vendetta against her,” said Michael in a phone chat with this website when asked about the issue. “I personally gave Emarine the job back then without any interview because I thought she was a good presenter with potential and would become even better but she failed,” he adds.
Serious companies conduct periodical human resource audits to review employees’ job performance and overall contribution to the company. Michael points to insubordination when Emarine failed the human resource audit because she chose not to attend.
“He wanted me to do certain things when I was heavily pregnant in November but I couldn’t, given my condition. Michael suspended me on Friday 30th November 2018. So, I took it up with the Jinja Labor Office,” adds Emarine.
Was going to the labor office really necessary?
When Emarine received a suspension from work in November 2018, she sought the guidance of the Jinja Labour Office (Dispute No. 078/12/2018). In the Wednesday 19th December 2018 dispute, Emarine was the Claimant and 89 Smart FM the Respondent..
In the Labor Complaint, Emarine sought guidance on whether she is entitled to a written job contract, salary arrears, notice before contract termination, maternity leave, annual leave, severance pay (compensation after being laid off), gratuity, and a certificate of service.
Both 89 Smart FM and Emarine contributed to a lengthy mediation process before Diana Nankwanga, a Jinja Labour Officer but both parties failed to agree for which Miss Nankwanga on Friday 19th April 2019 recommended them to the Industrial Court to determine and dispose of the dispute.
This will be the first time a radio personality in Jinja faces off with their (former) employer in the Industrial Court, premised on Plot 25-27 off Martyrs Way, Ntinda, Kampala. The Industrial Court’s main goal is to ensure compliance with International Labour Organisation Conventions which aim to improve labor standards of people in Uganda and to provide a platform for people to equitably express their labor grievances so as to achieve equal opportunity in employment.
The former Member of Parliament representing Jinja East Constituency, Nathan Igeme Nabeta founded 89 Smart FM in 2008. Smart FM is the only radio station that broadcasts in majorly the English language blending it with a little under 30% of Luganda and Lusoga. Their audience has, since inception, been the region’s hippy and urban townsmen, keeping them true to their ‘Great Hits. More Music’ slogan.