Uganda: Workers Give Government Ultimatum Over Salary Increment

Bridge International Academies Kasokoso teacher Miriam Nambya attends to nursery kids in class November 7.

Workers have given the government up to the end of April to sort out their salary demands, or they will go on industrial action. The demand comes after the government said there was no money for pay-raise for the civil servants in the 2018/19 financial year.

In a closed-door meeting held at the Ministry of Public Service yesterday, the workers led by the National Organisation of Trade Unions (NOTU) said anything other than increasing their salaries would attract all the available options.

Mr. Christopher Werikhe Peter, Secretary General NOTU said failure by the government to respond to their demands by the end of April will lead to automatic industrial action "We told the PS that April is the end of the cycle for us to get the details before the next budget is passed and if it has not appeared, of course you know what will follow that... we shall get into a strike," he said.

When Catherine Musingwiire, the ministry's Permanent Secretary, was questioned about the issue she said that ministry would heed to the demands by the workers, adding that it is, however, to be discussed internally and not for media consumption.

"It was an internal discussion and we don't have anything for you to report on. We are working on a modality to cooperate with you and when we have information to give to you, we shall communicate," Ms Musingwiire said.

Mr John Mitala, the head of public service and secretary to the cabinet also failed to respond to our inquiries on what the cabinet had come up with for the 2018/19 salary enhancement. All the known telephone contacts of Mr Matia Kasaija, the finance minister were switched off by the time of filing the story.

According to Mr Werikhe, government only proposed pay raise for medical workers, science teachers and other scientists. He however said they tasked the ministry to produce all the documents relating to the salary enhancement to the union by Friday.

"In this discussion we have agreed that she will provide us with a report on the detailed salary enhancement which the cabinet has discussed and that's going to be given to us by Friday," Mr Werikhe said.

He added that the five percent pay-raise proposed by the government to health workers, science teachers and other scientists is a peanut, considering the high costs of living.

"We discovered that what was provided for in the budget was five per cent and five per cent cannot be a salary enhancement in terms of helping workers to improve their wellbeing," he said.

He said they will scrutinize the figures to ensure that it complies with their demands. "We want to look at the figures suggested by the cabinet. Are they commensurate with what we think or they are not? The category of the people they want to pay... who are those ones? Because people want to know who is going to benefit from this payment in the financial year 2018/2019," he said.

Werikhe further said all their demands must be met before parliament approves the 2018/19 budget. "We are aware that the budget is coming out by May and if we don't make these demands now, we shall miss out that's why we are rising up on this."

Last year, the salary review commission headed by the Ministry came up with a proposed salary structure for the civil servants across the board. The commission proposed the different rates which it submitted to the ministry of finance.

According to the structure, the consultants would, increase from the current Shs2, 628,075 to Shs12, 000,000, a raise of 350 per cent.

Senior consultants would get a 320 per cent raise from the current Shs3, 447,065 to Shs14, 600,000.

Directors on salary scale U1SE will enjoy a 290 per cent raise, from Shs2, 893,252 to Shs11.4m.

The committee also proposed to raise the salary for those ranked U8, the lowest ranking government workers who include drivers and messengers.

Their pay would jump by 65 per cent from the current Shs237, 069 to Shs391, 420.

The pay for the lowest paid primary school teacher, the one ranked U7 and other employees in this category will rise by 64 per cent from the current Shs377, 781 to Shs621, 320.

To implement the salary enhancement, the ministry of public service proposed a figure of Shs1.8 trillion in the coming financial year. However in the 2018/2019 budget framework paper, the figure was excluded, angering the workers who said government was taking them for granted.

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