Makerere University lecturers and officials of the ministries of Education and Finance are wrangling over the apportioning of the salary increment announced by President Museveni last year.
According to Dr Muhammed Kiggundu, the Makerere University academic staff association chairperson, the wage bill for lecturers in all public universities were increased to Shs300 billion from Shs103 billion previously, representing an increment of Shs197billion.
However, the officials of the ministries of Education and Finance were not comfortable with the pay rise.
“The President raised our pay last year to Shs300 billion and we thank him. We negotiated for the deal and we know the money is there. The whole problem is that the ministry wants to ‘do their things’. They say how can we earn this money yet they also have similar qualifications. But we are not going to settle for less. We want what the President promised,” Dr Kiggundu told the academic staff on Friday.
Both parties agree on how much the highest paid lecturer at the rank of professor should take home monthly, which is Shs15 million.
However, the contention is on the pay for staff of the lower ranks. There is a big wage gap under the ministry proposal.
For instance, while the ministry officials want an associate professor to get Shs5 million, his juniors; senior lecturer (Shs4 million), lecturer (Shs3.5 million) and assistant lecturer (Shs3 million), the least paid is to get Shs2.5 million.
The lecturers are opposed to this.
They argue that these wage rates are no different from what they had been earning previously and it would not make any impact on their welfare except for professor.
The lecturers want the wage distributed as: Shs15 million for professor, associate professor (Shs13 million), senior lecturer (Shs11 million), lecturer (Shs9 million), assistant lecturer (Shs7 million) and the least paid to get Shs5 million respectively.
In total, this will bring the annual wage bill for all lecturers in public universities to Shs289.2 billion while the former proposals will add up to Shs171.3 billion.
According to Dr Kiggundu, the ministry is also considering paying the salary raise in phases, which he said they have rejected.
“The ministry wants it paid piece meal; this year and next year. We want to work together. We want to serve. After this pay is effected, it is when government is going to utilise the lecturers to the maximum and reduce on the brain drain,” Dr Kiggundu said.
The Ministry of Finance spokesman, Mr Jim Mugunga, said there are certain factors that must be looked at in the implementation of the salary increment.
“I am not privy to the alleged negotiations between Makerere University lecturers, ministries of Finance and Education. The principle is that as an executive pronouncement has been made, the role of Finance and the Treasury is to operationalise it,” Mr Jim Mugunga said.
“There are core considerations that have to be put in mind primarily the national coffers and how the resources can be distributed among competing and pressing priorities. My brief is that the proposal the Treasury may have made took that into consideration,” he added.
Under the new proposal, there is no salary differences between science and non-science lecturers as has been the case.
Previously science lecturers have been receiving higher pay than their arts counterparts.
The lecturers are also demanding that Makerere University together with the National Insurance Corporation pay them their Shs30 billion in retirement benefits. They threatened to attach the university property to recover the money.