Uganda teachers strike, activists urge more protests

KAMPALA, July 28 (Reuters) – Ugandan teachers went on strike on Thursday over low salaries and demanded a 100 percent pay rise to go back to work, a senior union official said, the latest in a spate of protests to grip the east African nation.

The government of east Africa’s third largest economy has blamed drought and high global energy prices for soaring consumer prices, which pushed the rate of inflation to 15.8 percent in June, and prompted Ugandans from taxi drivers to local traders to protest against a record-low shilling.

Ssensamba Gonza, the Uganda National Teachers Union’s (UNATU) national secretary, told Reuters a meeting of the executive decided late on Wednesday to stop teaching from Thursday.

“We’re fed up with the ridiculous lies of this government regarding the slave wages they pay teachers,” Gonza said.

“So we took a decision yesterday evening to withhold our labour until the government increases our salaries by 100 percent.”

Teachers in Uganda, estimated to number 160,000, are among the worst paid civil servants in the country and years of demands for pay rises have been rejected by the government.

Gonza said a primary teacher earned, on average, 250,000 shillings ($96) per month, while a secondary school teacher received about 450,000 shillings.

Anger over food and fuel prices came to a head when opposition-led demonstrations across the country in April and May provoked a government crackdown in which nine people were killed on the worst day, according to Human Rights Watch, and hundreds were wounded.


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