Sunday February 23 2014

Students at Soroti Flying School in hunger strike

Some of the students sit at the Director’s

Some of the students sit at the Director’s office on Friday. They said they would not leave until the issues are addressed. PHOTO BY SIMON PETER EMWAMU 


Students of Soroti flying school entered a second day of hunger strike, protesting lack of flights after their instructors downed their tools over unpaid salaries and poor welfare.

Mr Andrew Sanya Wabwire, the guild spokesperson, told the Sunday Monitor that the instructors’ strike comes three weeks after the school resumed flights following the grounding of their planes last year because of mechanical faults.

The instructors maintain that they will not resume work unless issues of salaries and welfare are addressed.

Mr Wabwire accused the academy’s administration for habouring personal ambitions at the expense of the student’s needs.

“Some of our colleagues have spent years in training because of the ill-administration,” Mr Wabwire said. He said the students would not eat or sleep and will remain camped at the director’s office until an academic plan is availed.

He added that when the President met them last year, he ordered that the Ministry of Works and Transport purchases 310-twin engine planes and increase salary for the instructors and improve welfare but instead the situation is getting worse every other day.

“Nowadays, when our parents call, they ask us how about our ‘work place’, because we spent long here instead of the recommended two years. We are not UPE or USE students. We pay $18,000 (about Shs45 million) for the course,” he said.

Mr Brian Ochen, a flying student, said he has taken seven years at the academy for a course that he would have taken him two years.

He said students remaining with instrument rating (IR) training that has to be done using two-twin engine planes have not taken the course and the academy says there is no money for its running.

Mr Ronald Lodiong, the director of the academy, says he learnt of the strike while attending a seminar in Entebbe through his chief instructor.

He said when he left last Sunday, all operations were running smoothly.
He added he is in a closed-door meeting with the instructors to try and find a solution in order for the students to resume flights.

Mr Lodiong admitted that the academy has had ups and downs, ranging from plane breakdown, aviation fuel shortage, issues of instructors, financial crisis, but said measures by the ministry are underway to solve the ever cropping problems.
He said the academy will continue preparing meals.