Teachers to resume strike

As the new school term opens tomorrow, teachers under their umbrella organisation- Uganda National Teachers Union (Unatu), have maintained that they will not teach unless the dispute over their salary increment is settled by government.

“We should not be repeating ourselves on this, our stand is still on,” Unatu spokesperson Teopista Birungi told Sunday Monitor.

Teachers are currently pushing for a 100 per cent pay rise. Union officials called off the first strike in July, pending negotiations with the government, that have since flopped. They now maintain that the strike resumes tomorrow.

The government on the other hand insists there is no money for salary increase this financial year and has threatened to take disciplinary action against teachers who will participate in the strike.

“Our head teachers are receiving a lot of intimidation from Resident District Commissioners and police in various districts but we are not changing our position about this,” Ms Birungi said.

This week, Parliament unsuccessfully pushed government to increase the teachers’ salaries by 50 per cent this financial year and another half in the next two years.

The report by the Committee on Social Services presented by its chairperson, Dr Sam Lyomoki, before Parliament, recommended a phased increase in the salaries of all teachers beginning with a 20 per cent increment this financial year.
Cutting down on wasteful expenditures like seminars, entertainment, travel inland, travel abroad, fuels, vehicle maintenance and repairs among others would realise the money.

The committee then proposed that government achieve the 100 per cent within the next three years. However, some MPs were opposed to the move.

“The 100 per cent demand for teachers’ salaries did not start today. Let the increment be effected or else we don’t approve their budget. There is waste expenditure in each ministry where we can get the money,” Mr Francis Epetait (Ngora County) said. The Prime Minister, Mr Amama Mbabazi and a number of ministers argued that there was no money to effect the increase.

“We cannot pass such a resolution. The rise is not a one-time payment but it’s continuous. Besides when you start cherry-picking, other civil servants will also come out to complain. In order not to incite others to strike, we shall give them a salary rise across the board,” Mr Mbabazi said.

“How come the government identified Shs102b to give to an individual called businessman Hassan Basajjabalaba and it is saying there is no money for teachers?,’ Leader of Opposition, Mr Nandala Mafaabi, said.

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