The battle between the Public Universities Non-Teaching Staff and government over a pay rise is not about to end. The staff are threatening to lay down their tools again following revelations by the Finance Ministry that there is no money to clear their arrears for the 2015/16 financial year.
Last year, the non-teaching staff laid down their tools prompting government to promise to give them a pay rise in the 2016/17 financial year and clear their arrears for the 2015/16 financial year as well. The non-teaching staff was demanding up to Shillings 30 billion in arrears and an additional Shillings 28 billion for the new financial year.
However, the Finance Ministry only released Shillings 78.5 billion out of which, 50 billion Shillings is for the academic staff and the remaining Shillings 28.5 billion is for the non-teaching staff including new universities.
In an April 11th 2016 letter, to the Education and Public Service Ministry, Keith Muhakanizi, the Finance Ministry Permanent Secretary, says government will not provide additional funds to the non-teaching staff because it was not included in the 2016/17 financial year Education Ministry policy statement.
He advises the Education Ministry to manage the wage bill within the budgeted figures. Dr. Rose Nasali Lukwago, the Education Ministry, Permanent Secretary subsequently wrote notifying the Public Service Ministry that there no additional funds will be available for wages in the 2016/17 financial year.
She also states that the wages for the Public Universities will not be adjusted through corrigenda. The communications contradict earlier agreements between the non-teaching staff and government.
Now, the non-teaching staff in Public Universities has vowed to lay down their tools on 1st May 2016 over the failure by the finance ministry to pay their arrears for the 2015/2016 financial year. Vincent Abigaba, the General Secretary of Makerere University Administrative Staff Association, says the correspondences between the three ministries are a complete violation of the agreed positions.
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He says as staff from Makerere University, they will join their colleagues from other public universities to demand for what belongs to them. Jackson Betihamah, the chairperson of Public Universities Non-Teaching Staff Consultative Forum, PUNTSEF says enough is enough.
He says while they have been engaging government in discussions, they are being taken for granted.
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Already different public universities are holding general assemblies to affirm the position taken by the executive committee. Gulu, MUBS and Busitema have all agreed to lay down their tools. Kyambogo and Mbarara Universities are holding the meetings today to chat away forward.