New pay system distorts teachers’ payroll, salaries

Tuesday November 12 2019

Discontented. Unatu district leaders march to

Discontented. Unatu district leaders march to the Ministry of Education offices in Kampala in 2017. PHOTO BY ABUBAKER LUBOWA 


Teachers have castigated government for failing to pay them their three-month salary arrears, with some going without their October wages.
The Uganda National Teachers’ Union (Unatu) petitioned the Ministry of Public Service last week inquiring why the salary enhancement government communicated in September was not paid.
Following negotiations with Unatu, government committed to increasing their salaries with Shs135b in this financial year.
Public Service was then tasked to distribute the money to the teachers, which task it did.

However, it is not clear how the money was distributed because there was no specific formula to guide the payment.
In September, Ms Catherine Bitarakwate, the Permanent Secretary of the Public Service ministry, released a new salary structure for teachers reflecting the new salary increment, but some did not get the money.
Unatu estimates that currently, there are about 185,000 teachers and tutors on government payroll, up from 135,650 in June 2019.
Mr Filbert Baguma, the Unatu general secretary, told Daily Monitor in an interview yesterday that while all graduate teachers received their pay rise, Grade 5 arts teachers (diploma holders) did not get their pay.

In addition, he said no teacher has received their salary arrears since July as Ms Bitarakwate had promised.
“We have received complaints across the country that no local government has paid arrears and we have put it to Public Service,” Mr Baguma said.
Asked on the salary irregularities, Ms Bitarakwate responded: “There will be an official communication on that matter. Just be patient.”

Finance issue
However, Mr Baguma said during their meeting with Ms Bitarakwate last week, she told them she would inquire from their colleagues at Ministry of Finance where the anomaly came from and get back this week.
“They are investigating what happened on the Integrated Financial Management Services and Integrated Personnel and Payroll System (IPPS). These are irregularities in the implementation of the new salary structure. Public Service told us that they are to consult whether Finance released the money to local governments and they did not pay or whether they never released the money and why,” Mr Baguma said.

Mr Job Richard Matua, a teacher at Pope John Paul High School in Luweero District, wrote to Ms Bitarakwate informing her of the salary disparities and accused government of failing to fulfill its commitment.
Mr Matua is among science teachers, who have formed a parallel teachers’ union they are still seeking to formalise as the Uganda National Science Teachers’ Union.
He cited Kapelebyong District where teachers did not get their October salaries.

Mr Matua said he also received similar complaints from Wakiso, Sheema, Mukono, Isingiro, Bukomasimbi, Namayingo, Arua and Gulu districts.
“Salary enhancement was implemented with glaring disparities throughout the country. In some districts, teachers did not get their salary at all while in others, they received less of what they earn. Public Service claimed the system is automated. Why then are these disparities coming up?” Mr Matua asked.


Technical difficulties
Mr Nasser Mukiibi, the Kapelebyong chief administrative officer, acknowledged there was a mishap in processing salaries for his staff, but added the glitch has since been rectified.
He said the district staff missed two months’ salaries and in the process of correcting the error, salaries for the second month did not come through.
Mr Mukiibi, however, told the teachers that salaries will be on their accounts by end of today.
“There were some technical issues which we have resolved. We are on hybrid and being a new district, some staff are not yet conversant with the technology being used in paying salaries. They are being sensitised on how to use it. The staff should expect their pay by Tuesday (today),” he said.

Public Service issued a circular in September showing that diploma arts teachers’ monthly pay would be increased from Shs575,710 to Shs784,214. Their science counterparts were maintained at Shs865,966.
Explaining the increment then, Ms Bitarakwate said it was intended to reduce the salary gap created when government first raised pay for only science teachers and also remunerated those with leadership roles besides their teaching profession such as head teachers.
The graduate arts teachers’ pay was raised from Shs958,242 to Shs1,078,162 while science teachers would get Shs1,210, 213, up from Shs1,153,439.

Ms Imelda Ozikiru, a graduate science teacher at St Joseph’s College Ombachi in West Nile, received Shs976,000 for the October pay, much less than what is indicated in the new salary structure.
However, some of her colleagues missed their pay. Mr Peter Okello, a teacher at Sir Samuel Baker SS in Gulu, said: “We are just patriotic. Otherwise, we should have left teaching. The structure showed I should have gotten an increment of Shs56,000 but I saw Shs11,000 more. We don’t know which percentage they used to increase. Some of our colleagues have been deleted off the payroll with no explanation. The salary irregularities are too many.”