Unatu threatens strike over teachers’ salaries 

Students wash hands after break time at Kisubi Mapeera Senior Secondary School in Entebbe in 2020. PHOTO/DAVID LUBOWA

What you need to know:

  • Unatu says effective tomorrow, teachers will not go to classrooms unless government honours the salary commitments.

Teachers under their umbrella, the Uganda National Teachers Union (Unatu), have vowed to lay down tools over what they describe as proposed discriminatory salary enhancement.

 “The leadership of the teachers Union countrywide has unanimously ratified the resolution of the standing committee that sat on May 23 to enter into an industrial action effective June 15 if there is no satisfactory feedback on the issues pertaining to teachers’ salary increment across the board for the financial year 2022/2023,”said Unatu in a June 11 letter signed by the Union’s general secretary, Mr Filbert Baguma.

 “The Union will continue to champion the fight to ensure that teachers get what has been promised to them. In return, we call upon all teachers to join the struggle without fear to enable us have one strong, uniform voice countrywide,” the statement further reads.

Mr Baguma said due to alleged constant disappointments, anxiety is mounting among teachers and that unless there is satisfactory feedback from the government, the intended industrial action will continue as planned.
 “Unatu is still open for further negotiations. However, government should note that as of today, the industrial action is few days away. We strongly believe that if money can be found for increasing the allowances of Members of Parliament, citing rising cost of living and inflation, the same can be done for teachers,” he said.
 Mr Baguma said effective June 15, teachers will not be present in classrooms until government honours the salary commitments.

 He asked the government to implement the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) without discrimination.  
 “A notification was given to government on May 23 expressing our intention to resume our industrial action if they insist on implementing a discriminatory salary enhancement for teachers as opposed to honouring commitments made in our CBA signed on June 22, 2018. Regrettably to date, no positive response has been received,” the Unatu leaders said in the statement.

Mr Baguma said Unatu and other public service unions signed a CBA with government that highlighted plans for salary enhancement across all categories of civil servants for the financial years 2018/2019 and 2019/2020. 
They also agreed that negotiations for FY 2020/2021 and FY 2022/2023 would go on as agreed in the agreement.
He said while some categories of civil servants in the CBA, particularly those in phase one, received their increment in full, teachers who were supposed to benefit from phase two received only 25 percent of the expected increment.

“Our industrial action that started in 2019 over the same issue was only suspended pending the full implementation of the CBA. Every financial year, teachers have to remind government about the commitments earlier made. Do teachers really matter to this nation? Are the commitments made by government mere boardroom gimmicks meant to silence teachers?” Mr Baguma asked.
However, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Sports, Ms Ketty Lamaro, said the ministry was discussing Unatu’s concerns internally, but urged teachers to desist from strikes.

Ms Lamaro said enhancing teachers’ salaries is a commitment that was made at a high level and that the government has on several occasions assured all public servants, including teachers, that their salaries would be enhanced.  “Teachers should desist from anything that disrupts teaching and learning. Schools were grossly affected by the Covid-19 lockdown and we are now trying to accelerate learning to recover the lost time. Their salaries will be enhanced, but in a phased manner because government does not have enough money to pay everyone at the same time,” Ms Lamaro said.

 While addressing a press conference at the Uganda Media Centre last month following the Allied Health Professionals and nurses strike over pay, the Public Service minister, Mr Wilson Muruli Mukasa, said salary enhancement for public servants would be done in a phased manner, depending on availability of funds.
 Mr Mukasa said scientists, including science teachers, would benefit first.
 “If we are to enhance the entire service, it will need Shs1.5 trillion, that is why we chose to go in phases,’’he said. 

The Permanent Secretary of the Public Service ministry, Ms Catherine Bitarakwate, said Shs495 billion had been earmarked in the Financial Year 2022/2023 National Budget to enhance salaries for scientists.
 “Enhancement is real. It is not a figment of imagination,” Ms Bitarakwate said.

CATEGORY    SCALE    Amount (shs)
Principal Comprehensive Schools/NTC, UCC    UI-SE    12,200,000
Principal PTC, Tech schs/ Deputy Principal NTC    U1-E    10,000,000
Head Teacher (Secondary)    U1-E    10,000,000
Deputy Head Teacher (Secondary)    U2    7,400,000
Science Teachers at Principal Level    U2 SC    7,800,000
Science Teachers at Senior level    U3 SC    6,000,00
Arts teachers    U3    5,400,000
Science Teachers at Graduate level    U4 SC    4,800,000
Arts Teacher    U4    4,500,000
Science teachers at Diploma level    U5-SC    3,000,000
U5 Arts teacher    U5    2,700,000
Head Teacher (Primary) U    U4    4,500,000
Deputy Head Teacher (Primary)    U5    2,700,000
Senior Education Assistant    U6    1,600,00
Education Assistant    U7    1,350,000
Non-Formal Education Teachers     U8    500,000