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Thousands of Allied Health Workers Start Strike Today

Patrick Dennis Alibu, the Chairperson of the Uganda Allied Health Professionals’ Associations who doubles as Secretary-General of the Uganda Medical Laboratory Technology Association, said the 21 days elapsed this morning marking the start of their industrial action.

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Thousands of Allied Health Workers will not report to work this morning to pressurise the government to give them a pay rise. 

The Allied Health Workers comprise laboratory technicians, pharmacists, clinical officers, radiographers, dentists, medical records officers, anaesthetic officers, occupational therapists, environmental health officers, counsellors and dentists among others through their umbrella body, the Uganda Allied Health Professionals’ Associations, say they have decided to lay down their tool following the expiry of the 21-day ultimatum they gave the government to look into their demands for salary increment.

According to the workers, their demands are well laid down in the collective bargaining Agreement of 2017/18 between the government and the various workers’ Unions. As per the agreement, Certificate holders want Shillings 1.3 million up from the current Shillings 300,000 while those with diplomas are pushing for Shillings 3million monthly. Degree holders want Shillings 4.8 million slightly lower than an entry-level doctor.

Patrick Dennis Alibu, the Chairperson of the Uganda Allied Health Professionals’ Associations who doubles as Secretary-General of the Uganda Medical Laboratory Technology Association, said the 21 days elapsed this morning marking the start of their industrial action. There are an estimated 60,000 allied health workers. Alibu says even as the government has continued to undermine their relevance, they contribute 80% to the country’s health workforce.

//Cue in; "And were not …       

Cue out…our issues, ‘’//

He said when the government resolved to increase the health workers’ pay, the biggest portion was given to those under U4, 3, 2, and 1 leaving out those on the salary scale U5 and below where they belong.

On her part, Florence Aleziyo, the president of the psychiatric Clinical Officers Association, says that she currently earns Shillings 1.2 million but compared to a load of work in the mental health sector and the cost of living, they cannot continue to work under the same arrangement and afford to take care of their basic needs.

//Cue in;’’ You go to the …  

Cue out…to survive,‘’//

She observes that the number of people with mental-related problems is increasing but professionals who have to deal with these cases are not facilitated enough to make the field attractive for new entrants. She says that there are 500 registered members in their association.  

Alex Kachwano, the Secretary-General of Clinical Officers, says that the majority of their work is on the preventive side of the health profession, which should be the focus of the government as well. 

However, he noted that they are surprised that the government prioritizes those on the curative side even as the government recently announced that they want to reverse the fact that 70% of diseases claiming Ugandans are preventable.

//Cue in; ’’Specifically with the …     

Cue out…to need oxygen,‘’//  

In addition to salary increment, the Allied health workers demand that the government reduces the taxes it levies on their salaries from 30% to at least 10% considering the high cost of living in the country and the meagre salary their earn.

Emmery Mbaha, the president of the Environmental Health Worker's Association of Uganda noted that the issue of career development is another pending problem as many are locked out at the diploma level. He says that those who try to upgrade are not elevated to a level that reflects their earnings, which is a discouragement to many.  

//cue in;’’Tubade tusaba …     

Cue out…bakunyigiriza nnyo’’//

The Health Ministry Spokesperson, Emmanuel Ainebyona told URN on Sunday that the ministry has never received any formal complaint from the alliance. The group joins the science secondary school teachers under their umbrella organization, Uganda Professional Science Teachers' Union who started their industrial action on May 9 due to the government's failure to increase their salaries.  

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