Local Govt workers to continue with strike

ULGWU general secretary Hassan Lwabayi Mudiba and public service minister Muruli Mukasa (R). PHOTO/COMBO

What you need to know:

  • The workers say they will lay down their tools until government commits itself to enhancing their salary in the next financial year as promised by the Public Service minister.

Members of the Uganda Local Government Workers Union (ULGWU) have resolved to continue with their planned industrial action, following the alleged failure by Public Service minister Wilson Muruli Mukasa to honour last week’s pertinent recommendations with them.

The ULGWU secretary general, Mr Hassan Lwabayi Mudiba, told Monitor in a telephone interview yesterday, that members, who yesterday met in Wakiso, agreed to lay down their tools until government commits itself to enhancing their salary in the next financial year as promised by Mr Mukasa.

“When we met with the minister last week, we spent over six hours debating over the matter. When he requested us to call off the strike, we asked him about the government’s commitments so that we could inform the workers, the minister, in his own words, said government is committed to enhancing salaries for Local Government workers,” Mr Mudiba said.

“He even told us that government was going to make sure it includes the issue of salary enhancement among the priority areas in the next financial year,” he said.

He added: “We asked the minister to put the words he stated in writing. To our surprise, when the letter came out, it stated different things. I want to say this was a misrepresentation of what we discussed in the meeting.  We are not ready to be taken for granted and, therefore, the industrial action will continue as planned.”

Mr Mudiba said although some of their members had already downed their tools since Thursday last week, majority were still waiting for feedback from the minister and since they have known their fate, they would all join their colleagues in the strike.

“We cannot rely on that misrepresentation from government to effect the withdraw of the industrial action. When I talked to members during yesterday’s meeting, majority refused to call off the strike. There were some few who suggested that we withdraw but when it came to voting, majority of the members said we should continue with the industrial action to pass a message to government that they we not happy about the way we are treated. The strike is on,” he said.

He added: “The mister should make a proper communication to cool down the people. It is him who proposed all those things.”

He said Local Government workers cannot continue suffering simply because they want to be considered ‘good Ugandans’. 

“We tried to resolve this matter internally and peacefully, but we have been frustrated by government’s lack of cooperation,” he further explained.

Mr Mudiba also said yesterday’s meeting resolved that the union file a petition to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) for its intervention.

ULGWU issued an industrial action notice to government on April 7 in fulfilment of a 90-day window under labour laws to increase the pay for its members or else lay down their tools. 

The union demanded that the local government worker, who is at the lowest level, should at least earn Shs1.7m, while the chief administrative officers should bag a monthly salary of Shs15m. 

This, they said, was in line with the Collective Bargaining Agreement that was signed in 2018.

Efforts to get a comment from Mr Mukasa were futile by press time.