Makerere dons to strike over allowances

Makerere University Vice Chancellor  Prof Barnabas Nawangwe in a recent interview with the Monitor. PHOTO | FRANK BAGUMA

Makerere University teaching staff have threatened to strike after the management abolished their monthly allowances, Monitor has learnt.

A highly placed source at the institution said management notified the staff that they will not be receiving allowances effective July, something that triggered unrest.

According to the June 26 letter addressed to the leadership of the academic and support staff, the University Secretary, Mr Yusuf Kiranda, indicated that the move to abolish allowances was a decision from the government.

According to Kiranda, the university introduced non-pensionable allowances for all academic staff, from teaching assistant to professors and administrative staff from M4 scale upward in 2008.

 The university also introduced clinical allowances for a section of the staff in the Faculty of Medicine, currently College of Health Sciences.

This was after the staff went on strike in the same year demanding a pay rise to a living wage.

“Makerere University traditionally budgeted for non-pensionable and clinical allowances as part of the wage following the staff numerous pay rise demands,” Mr Kiranda said in his letter.
Management has decided to abolish the allowances after the government enhanced staff salaries in 2020.

According to Mr Kiranda, the Ministry of Finance gave the university the green light to use the allowances for staff promotion.

“The government notes that Makerere University suffers considerable wage-related pressure including overdue staff promotion requirement. Therefore, the funds hitherto used for non-pensionable and clinical allowances will be used for staff promotion effective financial year 2023/2024,” he said.

According to statistics, a total of 1,674 of 3,366 staff were earning Shs3.4b annually in allowances. 
Some staff, according to sources, were receiving Shs500,000 per month while others were receiving Shs70,000.

In 2016, Makerere University teaching and non-teaching staff raised the red flag after salaries of their colleagues in other public universities in the same salary scales were earning more than theirs.

This forced the university management to cover the gap by introducing an allowance to beef up the staff salaries.

In 2020, the government released Shs50b to facilitate the salary enhancement of teaching staff in all public universities.
 As a result, all professors started earning   Shs15.6m from Shs8m while an associate Professor started earning Shs14.8m from Shs7.5m.

Senior lecturers’ salaries were also increased to Shs8.1m from 6.1m while lecturers’ salaries were increased to Shs5.7m from Shs4m.

Meanwhile, the lecturers have since protested the above salary structure saying the Shs50b should have been shared equally.

To date, the staff are still putting the government under pressure to increase their salaries by 100 percent as it was directed by President Museveni.

The pledge
Mr Museveni in 2014 promised to enhance salaries of staff in all public universities. He said effective 2015/2016 Financial Year, the government would increase the salary wage of public universities from Shs120b to Shs300b, where a full professor would earn Shs15m and pro rata increment for other staff below the professors.

However, due to budget constraints, the Public Service proposed to release the above funds in instalments. Whereas the salaries for professors have been achieved, the lecturers’ is yet to be realised.

The Minister of Public Service, Mr Muruli Mukasa, has previously asked the lecturers to be patient with the government.

Staff speak out
According to the chairperson of the Makerere University Academic Staff Association, Dr Robert Kakuru, the staff will meet next week in their general assembly to forge a way forward.

“As MUASA, we request that our salaries should not be deducted when the government has failed to fully implement the presidential directive on salary enhancement.

“The general assembly that sat last month rejected the proposal to deduct our salaries and we shall do everything possible to reject the deductions,” he said.