Catherine Bitarakwate Musingwiire, the Ministry of Public Service Permanent Secretary has told striking teachers to either go back to class by June 24 or quit the job.
Since Wednesday last week, arts teachers across the country have been striking over what they called discrepancies in salary enhancement among the teachers.
The striking teachers under the leadership of the Uganda National Teachers’ Union (UNATU) say that it is unfair for the government to enhance salaries of their science counterparts, sidelining them.
In a June 22 letter addressed to Philbert Baguma, the UNATU Secretary General, Bitarakwate said that arts teachers should return to work lest risk being replaced.
“The current enhancement for the science teachers was informed by the available resources, the number of teachers involved and the impact that can be made by the scientists to the development of this country. We have no doubt that you agree that we need an educated work force in all aspects of life but more in the sciences. This in our view will attract and retain the crucial skill that is required by the country at this material time,” she said.
She also noted that the strike underway is illegal because UNATU didn’t issue the an official notice concerning the same.
“Whereas teachers, like all other employees of Government, have rights and freedoms enjoyed under the Constitution and relevant laws, including the right to withdraw labour, the current industrial action by the members of UNATU is illegal and in breach of the principles and spirit of the law and particularly Sections 7(2)(a) and (b); and 8 (1) and (3) and the Public Service Negotiating, Consultative and Disputes Settlement Machinery Act, 2008 and the Recognition Agreement signed under this Act because neither has UNATU given a notice to strike nor had the Dispute Seulement Machinery been exhausted,” she added.
Bitarakwate told Baguma in the letter that the Ministry has noted with concern that UNATU and some of its membership have decided to close the schools which is illegal.
“We wish to advise you that no teacher, whether on strike or not, has the legal right or justification to close a public school without the concurrence of the Government of Uganda,” she said.
Adding: “While the Government is committed to working with all parties towards achieving better salaries for all public servants, your demands for a salary enhancement cannot be addressed in the Financial Year 2022/23.”
She further directed all government employed teachers to resume duty at their respective workstations by 24 June 2022 without fail.
“Any Government employed Teachers who does not comply to this call will be regarded as having abandoned duty and resigned from the Public Service in accordance with Section A-n (17) of the Uganda Public Service Standing Orders, 2021,” she said.
Bitarakwate also stated that teachers who are not willing to work under the prevailing terms and conditions are free to withdraw their labour as provided for under Section A-n(11) of the Public Service Standing Orders.
According to her, teachers who do not agree to any of the above are advised to seek legal redress in Courts of law.