The leadership of Uganda National Teachers’ Union-UNATU has announced an indefinite strike starting tomorrow Wednesday, a day after the National Budget reading as they demand equality and harmonization of the salary enhancement among teachers of different subjects, support staff, and school administrators across all levels of education.
The strike is premised on the fact that the government has decided to increase the pay for science teachers by nearly 3 folds in disregard for their colleagues in arts and humanities.
It is alleged that in the budget estimates that will be read today, graduate science and Grade V teachers are expected to receive Shillings 4 Million and Shillings 3 million up from Shillings 1.1 million and Shillings 796,000 respectively.
Now, Filbert Baguma the UNATU General Secretary says that it is unfair that the government is playing gimmicks with teachers and trying to create confusion among them by prioritizing a certain section.
Baguma note that on May 23, this year UNATU sent a notice to the government indicating their intention to resume their industrial action should the government insist on implementing discriminatory salary enhancements for teachers as opposed to honoring the commitments made in their Collective Bargaining Agreement signed back in 2018.
“Regrettably, to date, no positive response has been received from Government. It is important to note that our Industrial Action that started in 2019 over the same issue was only suspended pending the full implementation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement,” the general secretary noted. He wondered whether the commitments made by the Government were mere ‘Board room gimmicks’ meant to silence teachers and foil any plans for industrial action at the moment.
Baguma explains that since the government has decided to play the fool, union leaders across the country have unanimously ratified the resolution to enter into an industrial action if there is no satisfactory feedback on issues pertaining to teachers’ salary increment across the board for the financial year 2022/2023.
“Our industrial action effective 15th June 2022 will continue as planned until; Government agrees to implement the CBA without discrimination. Some categories of civil servants are already earning salaries from the same CBA. Why does the practice change when it comes to teachers?” Baguma wondered. The teachers’ union, which maintains that it is still open to talks with the government, has also drafted a pay increase plan for all teachers and other employees.
According to their demands, secondary school head teachers should receive Shillings 10 million, and primary school head teachers Shillings 4.5 million. UNATU is also pushing the government to pay Shillings 4.8 million to graduate science teachers and Shillings 4.5 million to those teaching arts and humanities. They are also advocating for a Shillings 1.35 million minimum wage for primary school teachers.
UNATU’s call for industrial action comes after teachers under Uganda Professional Science Teachers Union-UPSTU suspended their strike indefinitely, which was declared at the beginning of the second term. Leaders in this breakaway union had temporarily suspended the strike when the government promised to address their concerns.