Teachers defy Museveni directive to call off strike

A photo combo showing Unatu secretary general Filbert Baguma (L) and President Museveni (R). PHOTOS/ FILE

What you need to know:

  • The President has asked the teachers to call off the industrial action, saying government is committed to honouring salary enhancement in a phased manner.

The Uganda National Teachers Union (Unatu) has vowed to continue with the ongoing industrial action over discriminative salary enhancement despite a directive from President Museveni to return to class.  
In a press statement issued on Saturday, June 18, the President asked the teachers across the country to call off the industrial action, saying government is committed to honouring salary enhancement in a phased manner.

“In principle, we shall pay everybody well but as of now, let us concentrate on one aspect. Don’t tell me about this industrial action. Go and work. Our aim is to pay civil servants well,” he said.

The President was meeting Unatu members at State House, Entebbe.
But Mr Filbert Baguma, the Unatu secretary general, told Daily Monitor in a telephone interview that since their meeting with the President did not yield any desired results, they will continue with the strike.
“We clearly presented to the President the position of the teachers over discriminatory salary enhancements, which breach the provisions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement that was signed with Government in 2018,” he said.

“The President handed the matter to the ministries of Education, Public Service and Finance, to review the proposed pay plan and ensure that the disharmony is rectified. This, therefore, serves to inform the members of Unatu and the general public that the industrial action continues. All teachers should stay home as we await for the outcome of the review process,” Mr Baguma added.

Unatu’s position
He explained that their resumption of duty is dependent on how fast the ministries of Public Service and Finance conclude the review process and whether the outcome addresses discrepancies in salary enhancement for all teachers across the board.
The spokesperson of the Ministry of Education and Sports, Dr Dennis Mugimba, reiterated the President’s position that scientists’ salaries be given first priority.
However, Dr Mugimba said the President emphasised that the salary gap between arts and science teachers should be minimal.
“If a scientist earns Shs5 million, the one of arts should not earn Shs2 million. The latter’s salary should be around Shs4.5 million,” Dr Mugimba explained.

He said the ministries of Education, Finance and Public Service would continue engaging with Unatu to resolve the matter.
Arts teachers in the country went on strike on May 15, protesting against discriminatory salary enhancement. The strike saw some schools close.
The salary status
The salary for science teachers, who are degree holders, is expected to increase from Shs1.2 million to Shs4 million while that of diploma science teachers is expected to increase from Shs950,000 to Shs3 million.
 Currently, the arts teachers, who are degree holders, earn a monthly salary of about Shs1,080,000 while diploma holders in secondary schools earn about Shs795,000.