“The claim that the strike had been ongoing since 2019 and hence there was no need for a new notice is both fallacious and not legally tenable. Secondly, we have noticed with concern that you and your members have decided to close schools. We wish to advise you that no teacher; whether on strike or not, has a right or justification to close a public school," the June 22, 2022 letter reads in part.
President Yoweri Kaguta and First Lady Janet Museveni arriving for the State Dinner with visiting Heads of State, and guests at Speke Resort Munyonyo in Kampala. PPU Photo
The government has ordered the striking teachers to return
to their duty stations by June 24 without fail or risk being scrapped off the
payrolls. The Public Service Ministry Permanent Secretary, Catherine Bitarakwate
Musingwiire communicated the decision in her letter to Uganda National Teachers
Union-UNATU, which announced the industrial action.
In her letter, Bitarakwate notes that whereas teachers just
like all other government employees, have rights and freedoms to withdraw their
labor, the union neither gave the government notice of the strike nor exhausted
the dispute settlement mechanisms as required by the public service
negotiating, consultative and dispute settlement Machinery Act.
“The claim that the strike had been ongoing since 2019 and
hence there was no need for a new notice is both fallacious and not legally
tenable. Secondly, we have noticed with concern that you and your members
have decided to close schools. We wish to advise you that no teacher; whether
on strike or not, has a right or justification to close a public school,"
the June 22, 2022 letter reads in part.
While declaring the industrial action last week, the UNATU
leadership noted that this was a continuation of their strike that was
suspended in 2019 when the government promised to work on their demands agreed
upon in the collective bargaining agreement that was signed in 2018.
"...Regrettably, to date, no positive response has been
received from Government. It is important to note that our Industrial Action
that started in 2019 over the same issue was only suspended pending the full
implementation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement," UNATU’s letter to
its members announcing the industrial action read.
The current strike resulted from the government's decision
to increase the pay for science teachers nearly by 300 percent in disregard of
their colleagues in arts and humanities. The increment saw the government
increase the pay for graduate and grade V science teachers to Shillings 4
million and Shillings 3 million up from Shillings 1.1 million and Shillings
With over 120,000 teachers dropping chalk and refusing to
attend lessons, the government hurriedly called for a dialogue meeting over the
weekend to find a quick solution. Both President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and his
wife and Minister of Education and Sport, Janet Kataaha Museveni attended the
During the meeting, teachers under the slogan "All
Teachers Matter” tabled their demands for pay equity and harmonization among
teachers of various subjects, support staff, and school administrators at all
levels of education. However, after hours of dialogue without any concrete
results, the teachers resolved to continue with their industrial action despite
overtures for reconsideration from the President.
As earlier communicated, the
permanent secretary reechoed the teacher’s demands for a pay rise cannot be
addressed in the coming financial year whose budget has already been approved
and passed. "...all employed teachers are advised to resume duty at
respective workstations...any government-employed teacher who does not comply
to this call will be regarded as having abandoned duty and resigned from public
service," she wrote adding that those can't work under prevailing terms
are free to resign from service.
She also emphasizes that all schools are expected to be
opening and operational without fail by Monday last week advising teachers who
do not agree with the available options as suggested by the government to seek
"By copy of this letter, the chief administrative officer
and town clerk are called upon to take stock of the teachers present and submit
absent teachers by June 30, for eventual removal from the payroll," she
Filbert Baguma, the UNATU secretary-general, noted that they
have received the letter but it changes nothing. Baguma added that the claim
that their industrial action is illegal is ungrounded thus calling teachers not
to panic over the intimidation of being scrapped off the payroll.
"These are the tricks they have been using. We are
going to respond to their letter soon but the central point is that our strike
is still ongoing up to when our concerns are addressed. Teachers should remain
firm. This time around we are not going to bow to any pressure or
intimidation," said Baguma.
Baguma went on to say that the resumption of teaching and
learning is only contingent on how quickly the government addresses the issue
of equitable salary increases for all teachers across the board. The government allocated the ministry of education
Shillings 95 billion in the current budget for the enhancement of teachers’
If it is to be distributed
equally across the board to the 169, 000 teaching staff, it means that each
teacher would get an additional Shillings 46,800/- per month. It should be noted that UNATU has already proposed a salary
raise plan for all teachers and other staff. According to UNATU’s draft,
secondary school and primary head teachers should receive Shillings 10 million
and Shillings 4.5 million respectively.
UNATU is also pushing the government to
pay shillings 4.8 million to graduate science teachers and shillings 4.5
million to those teaching arts and humanities. They are also advocating for a Shillings
1.35 million minimum wage for primary school teachers. However, our reporter has also learned that President
Museveni has already proposed a minimum pay of Shillings 3.5 million for art
But this can only take effect in the 2023/2024 financial year.