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Top Serena hotel jobs offered to foreigners without interviews

by Editorial Team
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By Moses Kigongo

The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) tribunal on Friday, October 28, learnt that all the Executive Committee (EXCO) jobs  that were offered to foreigners at Serena Hotel were not advertised. 

The revelation was made while cross-examining top officials of the hotel following a case filed by its employees at the Equal Opportunities Commission in 2019.

Responding to a question asked by the applicants’ lawyer regarding whether Serena Hotel advertised the EXCO jobs to enable competent people apply for them, the sales and marketing director of Serena Hotel, Allen Ampaire, responded that they did not do so.

Ampaire explained that they follow other procedures to select members that seat on EXCO.

Serena Hotel employees led by Najib Dhawota and others lodged a case, file number EOC/CR/304/19, alleging that their employers engaged in systematic discriminatory practices against Ugandan employees.

They said their employers had breached the National Local Content Act by offering most of the top jobs to foreigners (especially Kenyans) without any form of advertisements to offer an opportunity to capable Ugandans to compete for them.  

The Act imposes local content obligations on all persons using public resources or carrying out an activity under a license in Uganda.

Regarding employment, the Act states: “All persons to whom the Act applies are bound to employ Ugandans and can only employ non-Ugandans after it has been certified by the department that there is no Ugandan capable of performing that job. Where a non-citizen has been approved for a position, the law requires that provision is made for skills transfer and the entity must submit a succession plan in respect to the role performed by the non-citizen.”

Regarding work permits, the Act stipulates that: “The grant of work permits to foreign nationals must now be supported by the letter from the department certifying that the applicant possesses skills necessary for employment and that no Ugandan possesses the skills for a role.”

Some of the discriminatory practices that the employees pointed out include; giving all the top managerial positions to Kenyans, who are being trained by Ugandans and whose academic qualifications are below those of their Ugandan counterparts and have more experience in the hotel. 

The other discriminatory issues, they singled out, were seen from the areas of medical insurance (where Kenyans are given a medical package that enables them to go to the best hospitals and get the best medical services unlike their Ugandan counterparts).

Others included income inequalities (where Kenyan employees earn higher salaries compared to Ugandan employees, with the same job grade and similar job titles), housing allowance (where Kenyans get sh2m, far less than Ugandans are given) as well as mileage allowance, which are given to Kenyans and denied Ugandans.


Documents seen by New Vision indicate that Serena Hotel opened in 2006 after taking over Nile Hotel, and it is operated by a hospitality consultancy firm called Tourism Promotion Services, with its headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya.

It is managed by mainly Kenyans almost in all units across Africa, who work as expatriates. However, in Uganda, they were supposed to work for three years, according to the memorandum of understanding between Nile Hotel and Serena Hotel as they train Ugandans to take over the managerial positions. But this was not the case as they stayed until recently, when a group of 11 employees took the matter to EOC, after falling out with them in 2019.

The case is still ongoing and is scheduled to resume on December 15 when the commission will hear from the Human Resource Officers and former general manager Anthony Chege who is one of the respondents from the defendant’s side (Serena Hotel).

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