NOTU threatens industrial action over salary mess

Monday March 26 2018

Trade unions government 90 days sort salary mess face strike

Mr Christopher Werikhe the NOTU secretary general addresses a press conference recently. FILE PHOTO 

By Stephen Wandera

The National Association of Trade Unions (NOTU) has given government an ultimatum of ninety days to adjust or face industrial action. This was in reaction to the pay rise of civil servants recently announced by Secretary to Treasury Mr Keith Muhakanizi.

According to Mr Christopher Werikhe the NOTU secretary general, the pay rise is not what the two parties agreed upon.
“You are aware that according to the Labour Union Act 2006, and the Public Service (Negotiating, Consultative and Dispute Settlement Machinery) Act 2008, labour unions negotiate salaries on behalf of the workers. To this effect, we would like to reject the estimated proposal of salaries declared on 20th March, 2018 announced by the Permanent Secretary and Secretary to Treasury Mr. Keith Muhakanizi that this is not the agreed position of the workers and government,” he said.

The top NOTU executive and heads of seven leading unions all backed the decision by NOTU that brings together over 40 trade unions and over a million registered workers. The unions that backed the decision included; the Uganda National Teachers Union (UNATU), Uganda Nurses and Midwives Union, Uganda Medical Workers Union, Uganda Local Government Workers Union, National Union of Government Workers Union, National Union of Educational Institution (NUEI), and the Uganda Government and Allied Workers Union (UGAWU).
“The so called enhancement is discriminative and leaves out other workers, most especially those working with local governments and only provide for political leaders.”

The workers’ top representatives noted that the position of medical workers and nurses union was that medical doctors will start with Shs5million and the enrolled nurse/midwives were due to earn Shs1million.
They were concerned that even though medics requested for lunch allowances (Shs300,000), transport (Shs300,000) and housing (Shs500,000), this was left out in the announced pay rise by Mr Muhakanizi.

In the newly released pay rise. A senior medical officer/senior dental surgeon who was earning Shs1.3m will now earn Shs2.7m per month. While enrolled nurses currently earning shs400,000 will now earn shs600,000.
The workers’ body noted that in their agreement, the minimum a medical doctor is supposed to earn is shs5m while an enrolled nurse should earn Shs2.1m inclusive of allowances.

“How do you pay a science teacher a salary of Shs2 million yet his supervisor, the head teacher is earning Shs2,050,000? Who will supervise who,” wondered Werikhe. They said such contradiction was caused because the teacher’s body, Uganda National Teacher Union (UNATU) was left behind when the decisions were being made.

NOTU and its affiliate also protested the way nurses are being transferred. “Our sister Dr. Diana Atwine, (Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health) is being very inhumane. How can you transfer nurses and don’t provide them with transport and accommodation after forcing them to leave the houses they were living in,” Werikhe said, adding that: “Nurses are being evicted from houses like criminals yet they have school going children.”
He noted with concern that the affected nurses had been deleted from the official payroll and wondered how the Permanent Secretary expected them to survive. They demanded that the transfers be cancelled by Dr. Diana Atwine.

NOTU Chairman General Mr Usher Wilson Owere sounded a tough warning to government urging President Museveni to rid the Finance and Treasury department of ‘weevils’ like he did with the Uganda Police Force.
“We are demanding that the ministry of Finance be cleaned up before the economy declines further. Keith Muhakanizi must resign. If he doesn’t we shall do the needful,” said Owere.

He said the countdown to the planned industrial action started on March 20 2018 when they delivered the petition to Keith Muhakanizi.
“Therefore, in view to the mentioned explanation above, we are giving 90 days statutory notice to withdraw labor with effect from June 23 2018 incase our affiliates view cannot be captured in the budget of 2018/2019,”said Owere.