under Uganda National Teachers’ Union-UNATU have agreed to call off the
The decision was taken on Monday after a meeting between UNATU leaders and President
Yoweri Kaguta Museveni at Kololo Ceremonial Grounds. During the
meeting, UNATU presented their case but the President told the teachers that
the government has already provided a position and it will not reverse
"We have provided a position as government and pledged to competitively
remunerate workers guided by a science-led strategy. This does not mean we have
forgotten others, but we are choosing to prioritize the few and others can come
later. We must finish one problem at a time," the President reportedly
told teachers’ representatives.
President Museveni who was accompanied by Education Minister Janet Museveni
said that the government acknowledges the salary issues raised by the teachers
and other workers; the army, and Police officers, who are equally important to
the growth and development of this country.
“This does not mean we have forgotten others, but we are choosing to prioritize
the few and others can come later. We must finish one problem at a time...We
are aware of the issues and we are committed to handling them. Therefore, my
advice is to go back and teach. Please don’t divert us from our journey (of
attracting and retaining scientists by paying them comparatively and
competitively. Don’t interfere with government strategy.” he added.
On June 15, teachers laid down tools and refused to return to the classroom in
a quest for salary enhancement, with equity and harmonization across the board.
The strike, which is currently in the third week, has since stalled learning
across the country as learners are idle while many have since given up on going
to school altogether.
The strike resulted from the government's decision to increase the pay for
science teachers nearly by 300 per cent 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 4 million Shilling and 3 million Shillings
up from 1.1 million Shillings and 796,000 Shillings respectively.
During negotiations, teachers proposed that the government should either
provide an additional budget to increase the salary of art teachers or, for the
sake of justice, split the available wage bill of 95 billion shillings among
all teachers. The wage bill was set aside to enhance the salaries of science
teachers only and if equally shared among the 169,000 teachers on the payroll,
each would get a pay raise of 46,800 shillings.
However, President Museveni slammed the idea of sharing the available funds
saying that the argument doesn’t hold any sense.
Arts teachers insist that we should use the available resources to improve
salaries across the board, whilst this is possible, it does not solve the
salary issue. It is okumemerera (sprinkling), where everyone will get a little
and then next year everyone strikes,"
After the meeting with the President, teachers failed to answer the President
but opted to hold another internal meeting to discuss how the situation may be
handled. The meeting which was held at Teachers’ House lasted for over three
and a half hours with teachers split into two groups; one side wanted the
strike called off, while the other wanted it to stay.
Filbert Baguma, UNATU Secretary-General, notes that they had two options;
either walk away from the negotiating table and continue with their strike or
suspend it as the negotiation with the government continues. He adds that after
weighing the interest on the table, UNATU leaders later agreed to suspend the
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With the strike suspended, teachers are expected to return to classes effective
Tuesday. Baguma, however, added that the ongoing engagement with the government
will determine how long the suspension will take and when the strike will be
indefinitely called off.
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Speaking to our reporter a section of UNATU branch leaders noted that they will petition
Parliament over the matter on Wednesday.
This is not
the first time UNATU has launched a strike and suspended it without yielding
results. in 2019, the union had mobilized teachers to withdraw labour over
salary enhancements but the President quickly summoned the leaders and
convinced them to suspend it.
refuted the claims noting that the call has been made in good faith and looking
at the outcomes.
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As negotiation between the two parties continues, a lawyer has sued the
government for selectively increasing the salary of teachers saying this action
violates the right of non-discrimination in the workplace of arts teachers as stated
in the Constitution.
Usher Wilson Owere, National Organization of Trade Unions chairman general,
also observes that although teachers have agreed to return to classrooms, there
is a need to streamline the civil service structures and let institutions work.
Owere noted that it seems the President has usurped all powers of public
service technocrats deciding whose salary should be increased.