Civil servants threaten to strike

Sunday July 7 2013

Some of the suspects who were arrested in last

Some of the suspects who were arrested in last Wednesday’s early morning Panda gari-like crackdown. photo by colleb mugume 

By AL-MAHDI SSENKABIRWA

Kampala.

Unionised government workers have resolved to rally behind teachers who are pushing for a 20 per cent pay raise the government promised them last year.
The workers, who subscribe to the National Organisation of Trade Unions (Notu), said if the teachers’ demand is not met by September 14, all government workers will down their tools and join the strike.

“We are putting the government on notice that come September 14, if the demand by our colleagues, the teachers, is not met as promised, we shall all join them in their sit-down strike,” Mr Usher Owere, the Notu chairman, told journalists on Friday.

‘Gov’t won’t be blackmailed’
The decision was reached on Thursday during an impromptu Notu’s central governing council meeting held in Kampala. At least 20 labour unions are represented on the council.
Mr Owere said failure by the government to honour its pledge to the teachers was a sign of disrespect and workers of Uganda cannot sit back and watch this happen.
“If they cannot respect an agreement, what else can we entrust them with? This is really a bad sign to our young generation and we ask those responsible to reconsider their position,” he added

But the government spokesperson, Mr Ofwono Opondo, said by joining the teachers, the unionists are being populists, insisting that the current government cannot be blackmailed through strikes.

“The call for a strike is unnecessary. They want to imitate what city traders did. Let them know that this government cannot be blackmailed through strikes. We already have a general policy to gradually raise salaries of civil servants and the teachers they purport to help know it,” he said on telephone.

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If the unionists’ threats are anything to go by, the government operations will be paralysed. The government employs 300,000 people, of which 200,00 are unionised.

Notice issued
The Uganda National Teachers Union leadership has already given a 90-day notice to the government about their intended industrial action should it fail to honour the pledge. This is expected to end on September 14, two days to the opening of third term.
Last week, the teachers also asked MPs not to pass the national Budget unless their salary increment is factored in. Currently, Uganda has 160,000 teachers on the government payroll, of which 25,000 are in secondary schools.

assenkabirwa@ug.nationmedia.com

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