The Uganda National Teachers’ Union (Unatu) has highlighted the critical issue that will be presented to officials at the Ministry of Public Service in today’s meeting as they negotiate for a better pay for Arts teachers.
Mr Filbert Baguma, Unatu’s general secretary, yesterday said they will concentrate on salary increment because other issues may divert them from the contentious pay rise.
“The discussions will focus on one thing that we have come presenting in different meetings we have had with government and that is, a fair salary enhancement for Arts teachers,” Mr Baguma said.
“When we mix things, the government may pick the weakest and leave out the salary issue,” he added.
A five-member delegation from Unatu is expected to meet with the leadership of Public Service today at 2pm over the salary enhancement induced industrial action that commenced on June 15.
“Reference is made to the ongoing industrial action by Uganda National Teachers’ Union which started on June 15. This is, therefore, to invite you and four of your union executive members for a meeting with the Ministry of Public Service on Friday at 2:30pm in the ministry’s boardroom,” the letter signed by the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Ms Catherine Bitarakwate, states.
On Wednesday, the Unatu leadership received a letter from the Vice President, Ms Jessica Alupo, inviting them for a discussion over the same issue, and what the two parties agreed upon would be shared with President Museveni for advice.
The invitations came five days after Unatu had received a letter from Ms Bitarakwate directing teachers to return to class or else lose their jobs.
The letter attracted criticism from some citizens and labour union leaders who wondered why such a directive had been given hardly a week after President Museveni had, during a meeting with Unatu members, directed the ministries of Finance, Education and Public Service to further negotiate and come up with a salary enhancement plan.
The National Organisation of Trade Union’s chairman general, Mr Usher Wilson Owere, said the letter was uncalled for since President Museveni had already directed the line ministries to engage Unatu. The Minister for ICT and National Guidance, Dr Chris Baryomunsi, told Daily Monitor yesterday that government has the goodwill to raise salaries for all public servants in a phased manner.
According to Dr Baryomunsi, there are 320,000 public servants in the country, and out of these, 61,000 are scientists and their pay has already been enhanced in the 2022/2023 budget.
He said the budget for enhancing the salary for Arts teachers has not yet been worked upon but if their salaries were increased, it would cost government billions of shillings since their number is bigger.
Final decision to be communicated
ICT minister Dr Chris Baryomunsi urged Ugandans and the teachers to remain calm as government forges a way forward, adding that the final stand would be communicated at the end of the negotiations.
“The discussions are ongoing and they are led by the Vice President together with the Ministry of Public Service, and a statement giving government’s final decision would be issued once the discussions are concluded,” he said.