Kampala. The Ministry of Public Service has invited the striking teachers for fresh negotiations over salary increment, three days to the opening of the second term for government schools.
The Secretary General of Uganda National Teacher’s Union (Unatu), Mr Filbert Baguma, told Daily Monitor yesterday in a telephone interview that they had finally been invited to meet Public Service ministry officials today about their salary enhancement demands.
“We have been invited by the minister of Public Service for an extra-ordinary national negotiating and consultative council at midday. They have invited all public service unions that constitute the council and we are ready for this meeting,” Mr Baguma said.
He, however, said they will call off the strike only if public service tells them that their money is available.
“We are hopeful that they will tell us that they are going to implement the agreement, short of that it will be a wastage of time. If he is going to tell us what he was telling the media, it will be bad for him because the status quo will remain,” Mr Baguma said.
The Public Service Permanent secretary, Ms Catharine Bitarakwate, was not available for a comment.
An official in her office who picked up our calls on her behalf and promised to call back had not responded by press time last night.
Public Service had on Wednesday struck down the hopes of the striking teachers getting salary enhancement after Mr David Karubanga, the State Minister, told them government has bigger priorities to address other than enhancing their wages.
In a letter to all Public Service labour unions, Mr Karubanga said government’s priorities are on completing oil infrastructure, power stations, projects to address youth empowerment and employment, defence and security, revival of Uganda Airlines and construction of irrigation schemes to address climate change. Although he said government was committed to implementing the five-year pay target Cabinet approved last year, only Shs62.89b was provided for the second phase of which 13.8b will be for the health sector while Shs49 billion is for education.
On February 20, the teachers gave government a 90-day notice that they would lay down their tools unless they received positive response on salary increment.
Earlier this month, they accused government of double standards.
“It is unfortunate teachers’ issues have turned into a song on auto reply. Almost every financial year, teachers remind government about commitments earlier made. Do teachers really matter in this nation? Are commitments made by government mere boardroom gimmicks meant to silence teachers?” Mr Baguma asked during a recent press conference.