20 June 2018

Uganda: Teacher Strike - Govt to Issue New Salary Structure Next Week

The ministry of Public Service is expected to release a new salary structure for teachers next week, a senior ministry official said early this week.

Ahead of a looming teachers strike, assistant commissioner for Human Resource Management, Allan Muhereza, told The Observer that the public service ministry has been speaking to labour union representatives, the ministries of Education and Finance, and parliamentary committees, in its efforts to resolve the latest dispute over pay.

"We have finalised with the discussions and are going to issue a circular detailing a new salary structure. Our target is to issue this circular by next week, because we have to implement a new structure by July 1, 2018," Muhereza said.

"The draft circular is ready but needs some slight adjustments here and there that we are fixing with the relevant departments."

Muhereza said the new structure should be out not later than Friday, June 29. This will be four days after commencement of the planned industrial action announced by the Uganda National Teachers Union (Unatu), scheduled for June 25.

"Yes, we are aware about their industrial action but we don't go by dates of labour unions. We have a fully-fledged office responsible for issues of labour unions and they will engage them on the issue of salary enhancement," he said.

On Monday, Filbert Baguma, the Unatu general secretary told The Observer that a ministry official attached to the national negotiating and consultative council had invited the union for a meeting.

"For now, I don't have details about the meeting but the person who called us today [Monday] said she had been instructed to invite us for a meeting due Thursday. She didn't share the agenda and hang up after we confirmed attendance," Baguma said.

Over the weekend, Unatu called a press briefing at their offices in Kampala and announced that all teachers should prepare for the June 25 industrial action, should government fail to meet their demands.

Among others, Unatu wants a written commitment from government stopping discrimination in pay between science and arts teachers.

The teachers' umbrella body proposes that a head teacher be paid Shs 3 million, deputy head teacher Shs 2.5m, graduate teacher Shs 2m, diploma teacher Shs 1.75m, and a grade III teacher Shs 1.5m per month.

In 2017, President Museveni promised to improve salaries for only science teachers, arguing that they are few and likely to move to other countries due to poor pay.

The gross salary for science teachers with a degree was proposed at Shs 1.9m, while an arts subject teacher with the same qualifications would earn a significantly lower Shs 600,000.

For diploma holders, the proposed salary is Shs 1.75m for a science teacher and Shs 400,000 for their arts counterparts.

Baguma said on Saturday that teachers are the single most important ingredient for quality education but; "our concerns are handled with laxity and lack of genuine concern".

He, however, said that the teachers' union remains open to negotiations with government before the expiry of their 90 days' notification on June 23.



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