Kampala — Lecturers in all public universities across the country have announced a nationwide strike over what they called improper distribution of pay rise money.
Speaking on behalf of the forum for academic staff in public universities, the chairperson of Makerere University Academic Staff Association (MUASA), Mr Deus Kamunyu, told journalists in Kampala yesterday that they have resolved to call for a nationwide strike protesting the unfair distribution of Shs50b put in the 2020/2021 budget.
"The forum for academic staff in public universities has written four letters objecting the unfair distribution of the Shs50b that negates the pro rata (equity) principle that the Ministry of Public Service is going ahead to undermine. We shall not accept this and we are going to have a nationwide strike," Mr Kamunyu said.
"Effective June 4, all academic staff in public universities shall withdraw their labour until Shs50b for 2020/2021 is distributed pro rata based on the salary structure for academic staff developed by the Ministry of Public Service," Mr Kamunyu said, adding: "We advise all students and stakeholders to remain calm until this matter is resolved."
According to the lecturers, the distribution of the money for salary enhancement should be revised before they call off the strike. They say the distribution which was done by the Public Service Ministry in consultation with the Education ministry officials leaves behind the pro rata principle as reiterated by President Museveni during their December 14 meeting at State House.
The move by the lecturers is likely to disrupt the government plan to reopen educational institutional to allow final year students complete their studies. The President had promised to reopen schools on June 4.
According to a document signed by the chairpersons of all the staff association in public universities, the Shs50b was supposed be shared equally among the academic staff in all public universities across the country, but the professors and associate professors have been given a lion share.
According to the new salary structure for financial year 2020/2021 that was recently released by the Ministry of Public Service for public servants, lecturers in public universities inclusive, a professors will earn Shs15.6m from Shs8m, while an associate professor will earn Shs14.8m from Shs7.5m.
According to the disputed structure, a senior lecturer will earn Shs8.1m from Shs6.1m, while the teaching staff will earn Shs5.7m from Shs4m.
The teaching staff have dismissed the salary structure as discriminatory and warned that the strike will continue until the Shs50b is shared equally.
According to Kamunyu, if the Shs50b was distributed equally, a professor would get Shs11.4m and 10.1m for science and humanities, while an associate professor would get Shs10.7m and Shs9.7m respectively.
The staff also noted that if the pro rata principle was followed, a senior lecturer would earn Shs9.6m (sciences) and Shs8.9m (humanities), while a teaching assistant would get Shs8.7m (sciences) and Shs8.1m (humanities), figures which are higher than what the government has approved.
Mr Kamunyu also explained that with the new approved salary structure, a gap between the professors and a senior staff of Shs6.6m will be created as opposed to the pro rata agreed structure envisaging a gap between the professor and a senior lecturer at Shs1m.
By press time, officials in the ministry of education and Public service were unavailable to explain what government intends to do in order to avert the impending strike.