Teachers around the country could soon drop their tools and drag the government to court for a slow payroll cleanup that has left them penniless.
In Mbale 100 head teachers and their deputies stormed the RDC Paul Nangoli's office to complain that they had not been paid since July.
"We want to know why we are not on the payroll, were we fired from service because from July up to now we are not getting any money?" Samwiri Wamimbi, one of the head teachers, asked.
Fatimah Namakago, head teacher at Bumalunda primary school, was equally agitated, "It is sad that ghosts are receiving money yet the genuine workers are getting nothing ... should we die and then begin receiving as well?" she asked. A perplexed Nangoli pledged to contact the permanent secretary in the ministry of Public Service over the crisis.
In Kampala, the Uganda National Teachers' Union (UNATU) has promised to call a strike over the problem. UNATU general secretary James Tweheyo said he was upset that there were teachers who are only receiving half pay as well as those who had not been paid since July and many are living off loans from banks.
"Our understanding and patience is killing us. Why should we be castigated for our pay? If government does not respond positively ... then we shall close all schools," Tweheyo vowed.
In Kayunga district, 190 deputy head teachers have not realised this salary increment while in Abim, Amuru and Pallisa, the UPE and USE capitation grants have not been sent since July. Their colleagues in Mukono and Kayunga districts have lost patience and have already laid down their tools while district Chief Administrative Officers in Abim, Lwengo, Kabale, Namayengo and Amuru districts are reportedly too 'busy' to submit lists of verified teachers to the ministry of Public Service.
The teachers are also bitter about the unexplained deletion of teachers from the payroll. According to UNATU chairperson Margaret Rwabushaija, about 1,000 teachers were deleted from the payroll every month supposedly as ghosts.
"In Kabale district, 200 teachers have been deleted from the payroll and one teacher has spent eight months without pay. The payroll management is ruinous!" Rwabushaija complained.