Makerere University lecturers have resolved to lay down their tools effective midnight, protesting management’s failure to pay their arrears.
The lecturers under their umbrella body, Makerere University Academic Staff Association (MUASA) yesterday met and resolved to go on strike.
The lecturers have written to the university council chairperson, Dr Charles Wana Etyem, communicating their resolution in a letter signed by the lecturers’ association chairperson, Dr Muhammed Kiggundu saying: “MUASA emergency general assembly that sat yesterday October 25, 2016 has noted that despite multiple demands and reminders regarding the payment of incentive arrears for eight months (February to September 2016) no payment has been paid up today... after a lengthy meeting, the general assembly unanimously resolved to lay down their tools effective midnight until all the incentive arrears are paid,” the letter further reads.
In an internal memo to the university staff dated September 3, the university Vice Chancellor finance and administration, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, said the money allocated to the lecturers’ incentive together with the university's contribution to the wage bill (Shs30 billion) constituted more than 70 per cent of all the non-tax revenue of the University revenue and the University management could not sustain incentive payment.
He argued that “money allocated for incentive was more than the budget could afford, leading to arrears in payment of the incentive, amounting to Shs39 billion up to June 30th 2016, if, July and August are considered another Shs7.4b would be required. The debt up to June 30 2016, constitutes 33 per cent of the total debt of the University. The arrears on incentive are growing by an average of 30 per cent annually and is not manageable.”
Incentives were introduced during the 2013/2014 academic year after teaching staff went on strike demanding 100 per cent salary increment. The incentives were also meant to consolidate allowances that lecturers were earning from teaching evening program students and eradicate indiscriminate distribution of the allowances among lecturers.
In July MUASA agreed with university management to start deducting their incentive by 25 per cent starting with July after government fulfilment of its pledge to increase lecturers’ salary. The lecturers’ salaries were enhanced by 60 percent and 40 percent during the 2015/16 and 2016/17 financial years respectively.
In September, the lecturers stopped teaching evening classes after management decision to cut their incentives by 75 percent. University council bowed to lecturers’ pressure and rescinded the decision to reduce incentives on September 14.
The matter was supposed to be discussed by the University Council on October 21. However the Council did not meet. In a letter to the MUASA dated October 25, the University’s vice chancellor Prof Ddumba Ssentamu told MUASA chairperson that the Council did not take place due to First Lady’s visit. He said Council will convene on October 31 to discuss the matter.