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Gov’t Agrees to Increase Science Teacher's Pay, Union Undecided On Strike :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Gov’t Agrees to Increase Science Teacher's Pay, Union Undecided On Strike

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Vincent Elong, the national chairperson of the Uganda Professional Science Teacher's Union, says this is not the first time the government has made such promises.
10 May 2022 15:31
Chris Baryomunsi, the Minister of Information, Communications, Technology and National Guidance speaking to journalists after vetting. Photo by Olive Nakatudde

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The government has bowed to pressure and agreed to enhance the salaries of science teachers following their industrial action. As schools reopened their gates for the second term on Monday, science teachers in secondary schools and tertiary institutions excluding universities decided to withdraw their labour.  

Through their umbrella, the Uganda Professional Science Teacher's Union, the teachers blamed the government for sidelining them while enhancing the salaries of other scientists. They complained that the government went ahead to reallocate the money that had been earmarked in the budget framework to enhance their pay.

The group put the government on notice that they would lay down their tools unless they get a pay rise. Now, Minister for ICT and National Guidance, Dr Chris Baryomunsi, says that the cabinet chaired by president Museveni Yoweri Museveni has decided to enhance the salaries of science teachers alongside other scientists in civil service.   

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Dr Chris Baryomunsi says in addition to accepting the salary enhancement for scientists, the cabinet also decided that the starting pay for all graduate science teachers in the coming financial year should be Shillings 4 million while their colleagues in the medical field at the same level will bag Shillings 5 million.

This means the pay for graduate science teachers will be fixed at Shillings 4 million and grade V teachers Shillings 3 million up from Shillings 1.1 million and Shillings 796,000 respectively. It should be noted that in the additional wage allocation that had been made by the Ministry of Public Service in February this year before the new changes were made, a graduate science teacher was poised to get Shillings 2.4 million.   

Dr Baryomunsi says that putting the teacher's pay at Shillings 4 million and realigning the pay of other scientists in accordance with their grades and specialities will require Shillings 735 billion. The minister says that the president has already instructed the ministry of finance to avail of the funds before the budget is passed.  

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Vincent Elong, the national chairperson of the Uganda Professional Science Teacher's Union, says this is not the first time the government has made such promises.  “We are tired of their empty promises. This time around we are serious and no such words will move us. Let the government write to us formally. Let them give us a commitment letter so that we can return to class and have a point of reference if July comes and our increment is not reflected in the budget,” said Elong.  

Elong says that if the government gives them a commitment letter, the national executive committee for the union will convene and decide whether to call off the strike or not. “In brief, our strike is still on. We have informed our teachers not to step into class," he said.

Dr. Baryomunsi says that the government cannot issue a commitment letter to anyone since the enhancement is not out of negation with any union or worker's association but rather a government initiative to deliver on the commitments it made to Ugandans.      

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Meanwhile, the government's decision to increase the pay of science teachers has already generated mixed public opinion with many wondering whether art teachers won’t be strike soon.  

Filbert Baguma, the General Secretary of the Uganda National Teachers' Union, notes that although they are not against the enhancement of the pay of scientists as they have already recieved almost 20 per cent up and above their arts counterparts, they are currently engaging the government to ensure that there is equity in payments and salary enhancement for all civil servants.       

Baguma says as the government enhances scientists' salaries, those in humanities and art should also be given what is due to them. 

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Prioritizing salary enhancement for scientists remains a contentious matter in Uganda. During the recent labour day celebrations, Usher Wilson Owere, the Chairperson of the National Organization of Trade unions- NOTU informed the president that those in science and arts deserve a pay rise. He argued that they are both equally important.   

In response, President Museveni noted that although there is a claim of equity, the reality is that scientists are more important to the nation now and need special treatment. Museveni noted that after raising the pay for science teachers the government will also consider those in Arts.      

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