The general secretary of the Uganda Professional Science Teachers Union, Mr Aron Mugaiga, has advised the leadership of the Uganda National Teachers Union (Unatu) to encourage their members to return to class but continue engaging with government over salary enhancement.
Mr Mugaiga told this publication yesterday that the ongoing industrial action should be called off since it distorts the spirit of meaningful negotiations between the government and the Unatu leadership.
“I urge members to go back and teach because if they continue with the industrial action, the lost time will never be recovered when government effects their pay enhancement. I believe the doors for negotiations are still open,” Mr Mugaiga said.
“The President in the earlier meeting had also directed them to go and teach as negotiations continue because no one would wish to see children miss studies for that long,” he added.
On directing teachers to return to class or else lose jobs, Mr Mugaiga said although it guided the direction that the teachers should take, it came at a time when teachers were still waiting for feedback from the ministries of Education, Finance, and Public Service as directed by President Museveni.
“It came after they (Unatu) had met with the head of State. He is the one who directed these ministries to negotiate and come up with a payment plan for the Arts teachers. The President also directed teachers to go back to school while these negotiations go on,” he said.
Mr Mugaiga said while most of the Arts teachers were teaching, the situation was bad in some primary schools.
“Majority of the Arts teachers, especially in greater Kampala and some up country secondary schools are teaching. Majority of those engaged in the industrial action are in primary schools and we appeal to them to emulate their colleagues and go back to teach,” Mr Mugaiga said.
Regarding pay raise for science teachers, he said it should be embraced by their arts teachers since it will be a yardstick onto which the latter’s pay enhancement would be based.
Mr Mugaiga refuted allegations that the salary discrepancy in the proposed salary enhancement for scientists had created enmity between Arts and Science teachers. He described the allegations as blackmail intended to tarnish the image of scientists.
However, Unatu’s general secretary, Mr Filbert Baguma, said Arts teachers would continue with the strike unless their issues are addressed.
Mr Baguma added that those who believe that their strike is illegal should take the case to court. Arts teachers went on strike on June 15.