Uganda: Anger As Uneb Cuts Pay for Printery Staff

5 September 2019

The Uganda National Examinations Board (Uneb) has reduced pay for their workers in the printery where national examinations are printed, causing anxiety among the affected.

Some of the contract documents Daily Monitor has seen show that the workers had their pay reduced from Shs130,000 per day in 2014 to Shs100,000, three years later.

Sources Daily Monitor spoke to, who requested anonymity in order to express themselves freely, said this has created disharmony among the workers since it was done without informing them.

According the papers, the people contracted are expected to reside at the printery for not less than 65 days without meeting their relatives once printing examinations commences.

"You will be confined at the printery, without communication to the outside people-including your family. At the end of the task, you will be paid a subsistence allowance of Shs100,000 per night for the period you will be at work," the document, signed by Mr Dan Odongo, Uneb executive secretary in 2017, reads in part.

Previous management

However, the sources said they had previously worked under former Uneb executive secretary, Mr Mathew Bukenya's reign, where they were being paid Shs130,000 per day.

"Circumstances have changed. Prices of goods have gone up. You wouldn't expect your pay to go down. But it happens at Uneb. When you ask, you are told after all where can you report and because you don't have what to do, you continue working but when temptations come, you don't hesitate," the source said.

Asked why the board reduced the pay for these workers in a sensitive position, Mr Odongo said: "You are really getting too much into our operations. Why don't you look for better stories? This is not a very useful area to take your time. There is a limit beyond which I am not going to go in disclosing some of these things. Otherwise, we might do our work by the roadside so that everybody sees what is inside Uneb.

You are getting your information from detractors, people who have some agenda. The money was reduced? What were they getting?"

Mr Odongo added: "Who told you? Did you get the vouchers? They don't understand. Maybe they don't even work here. Those people have never been paid Shs100,000. How do you reduce? When it is small money, you look forward to increasing it."

Another top manager at Uneb, who declined to be named as he doesn't speak for the board, advised the aggrieved to find other jobs if they were uncomfortable with the pay.

"It's optional for them to work with us. They have a right to refuse. It is a contractual job. We have handsome rates," the source said.

Other sources explained that the work in the printery is categorised in two stages where they said the first stage has less work, reason they are paid lower money compared to those in group two whose pay goes up to Shs150,000 a day.

Money can never be enough

"Those who went to tell you are probably people who had wanted to enter there and were not elected. We don't solve our problems in the newsroom. People are adequately paid. Of course, there is no money which is enough," Mr Odongo explained.

Mr Zadock Tumuhimbise, the Uganda National Teachers' Union (Unatu) chairperson, appealed to Uneb in a separate interview not to dismiss the pointers but rather ensure they close all positions that could lead to examination leakages. He said one of the areas they need to consider is to pay attention to how much they pay the workers so that they are not tempted to leak the papers.

"Uneb should close all the gaps. They should facilitate those people handling examinations well. You can imagine a Primary Leaving Examination invigilator is paid Shs30,000 each day for the two days the examinations are conducted," he said.

Mr Tumuhimbise added: "Invest much in managing the exams. If not, we shall continue getting faulty results. We have seen people who performed well on papers but there is a big difference from the papers they carry and what they produce in the world of work."

pahimbisibwe@ug.nationmedia.com

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