A meeting between striking staff at Ugandas public universities and officials from the Finance, Education and Public Service ministries appears to have addressed the issues that pushed the staff to lay down their tools.
A meeting between striking staff at Uganda's public universities and officials from the Finance, Education and Public Service ministries appears to have addressed the issues that pushed the staff to lay down their tools.
A week ago, support staff from Makerere and Kyambogo universities declared industrial action over what they termed as unfair distribution of the Shillings 28.8 billion meant for salary enhancement. Their counterparts at Busitema University said they were also on a go-slow strike over the same.
They accused their colleagues in the senior administrative category of using the money meant for salary enhancement for all staff to benefit themselves by equating themselves to academic staff through unfair percentages.
Following the meeting on Tuesday, also attended by representatives of the National Union of Educational Institutions - NUEI as well as administrative staff of the affected universities, the staff were advised to share the money using a 40-percent formula across support and administrative staff categories.
The meeting had sat to receive, discuss and adopt the report by a technical team from the Ministry of Public Service which had last week been asked to look into the unfair distribution of salary enhancement for the non-teaching staff at public universities that had caused the current staff standoff.
According to Bruce Twesigye, the NUEI Makerere University Chapter General Secretary, the support staff members are happy with the outcome of the meeting.
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Twesigye says that they will however call off their strike on Friday after the final meeting with the ministry officials. Members of the non-teaching staff under administrative category have requested to go back and consult with their constituency in order to give a report on Friday July 22nd.
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While the support staff seems to agree with the position of the ministry, of an average 40% share of the initial enhancement for both support and administrative staff, the administrative staff does not agree.
Michael Eladu, the NUEI Kyambogo University chairperson, insists that the money that government released was for enhancement and not for harmonisation of salaries.
He argues that the ministry cannot claim to harmonise the salaries in the current scales when job titles in these scales are different.
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Eladu further notes that until the report on Job Evaluation is released and adopted, the ministry officials must not claim to have done justice in the proposed salary structure.
Vincent Abigaba, the Chairperson Makerere University Administrative Staff Association – MASA, said that the administrative staff opposes the decision reached by the meeting. He threatened that if this position is implemented, the administrative staff will declare a strike against it.
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Abigaba told URN that he had called for a General Assembly for MASA members to discuss the matter whose position would be communicated to the joint meeting slated for Friday this week.
Earlier this month, Catherine Bitarakwate Musingwire, the Ministry of Public Service Permanent Secretary, issued a circular with the new scale for the 2017/2018 financial year salaries for implementation at all public universities. It was this circular that has been contested by the support staff.
Abigaba however questioned why the public service ministry had communicated to the public universities to implement the new salary structure if the job evaluation had not been done.
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Deogracious Nyapalapala, the chairperson support staff at Busitema University, told URN that they are on a go-slow strike only waiting for the Friday meeting with the Ministry of Finance officials where they will call off their strike in case the current position is maintained.
"I have 195 support staff. We are not ready to receive 17% when others are getting 99% enhancement. We have been a bit calm due to the resolution of meeting which seemed to be promising," Nyapalapala said.