27 May 2019

Uganda: How Museveni Convinced Teachers to Call Off Strike

Photo: Yoweri K Museveni/Twitter
Yoweri Museveni.

Kampala — Teachers on Sunday called off their strike over demands for salary enhancement pending further negotiations with government following a meeting with ministry officials last evening.

Initially the teachers had said they would not report for the school second term which opens today.

During a meeting with President Museveni yesterday, the teachers under their Uganda National Teachers Union (Unatu), held talks with officials from the ministries of Finance, Public Service and Education headed by President Museveni.

Patrick Muida, the Education ministry spokesperson, said the teachers agreed to call off their strike and another meeting will be held by the end of July for further talks on their demands for salary enhancement.

According to a statement posted on social media by the Media C entre yesterday, the meeting, in which the teachers agreed to end their strike over salary increment, was held at the Offices of Prime Minister in Kampala and was also attended by Prime Minister, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, Education and Sports Minister Janet Museveni as well as all the education State Ministers.

President Museveni asked the teachers to suspend their industrial action for the whole term and promised to meet them in late July to brief them on the next course of action.

The President appealed to the teachers not to cause problems to the country but rather seek for equitable salary structures for all civil servants through the establishment of a harmonized salaries board to balance salaries of all civil servants.

On the salary increment for scientists in the country, President Museveni defended it saying that some skills are more needed in society than others.

"You see doctors when one falls sick it's the doctor to treat but not a person like me who is Head of State or a Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces," President Museveni is quoted to have said.

Efforts reach Mr Filbert Baguma, the UNATU general secretary, were futile as he could not answer our calls.

Background

On February 20, the teachers put government on a 90-day notice that they would lay down their tools unless they received positive response on salary increment.

Earlier this month, they accused government of double standards.

"It is unfortunate teachers' issues have turned into a song on auto reply. Almost every financial year, teachers remind government about commitments earlier made.

"Do teachers really matter in this nation? Are commitments made by government mere boardroom gimmicks meant to silence teachers?" Mr Baguma asked during a recent press conference.

Public Service had on Wednesday last week struck down the hopes of the striking teachers getting salary enhancement after the Public Service State Minister, Mr David Karubanga told them that government has bigger priorities to address other than enhancing their wages.

In a letter to all Public Service labour unions, Mr Karubanga said government's priorities are on completing oil infrastructure, power stations, projects to address youth empowerment and employment, defence and security, revival of Uganda Airlines and construction of irrigation schemes to address climate change.

The Ministry of Public Service, however, on Thursday yielded to pressure and invited the teachers for fresh negotiations over salary increment.

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