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EDITORIAL

GOV’T SHOULD PAY TEACHERS WITHOUT DISCRIMINATION

Stephen Ouma Bwire.

Government suffered a big blow when talks called by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni at State House June 17, 2022 to negotiate with Uganda National Teachers Union (UNATU) leaders and avert ongoing Industrial action, ended in a stalemate.

The latest development is victory for UNATU, whose labour union has since 2006 been split into six other unions in the same teaching profession thereby dividing teachers and reducing their bargaining power.

Teachers under their umbrella body,  UNATU announced industrial action demanding for uniform salary increment, and not  pay rise for only science teachers.

The discriminatory salary enhancements to one sector is a violation of article 40 (b) in the Ugandan Constitution under “ Economic rights” that guarantees  “Equal payment for equal work without discrimination”.

Article 40 (3) stipulates that “Every worker has a right to form or join a trade union of his or her choice for the promotion and protection of his or her economic and social interests,(b) to collective bargaining and representation; and (c) to withdraw his or her labour according to law.

 There are even fears that there could be a further split of UNATU or other existing unions within the teaching profession or Education sector to the advantage of government which feels at ease with disintegrated labour unions.

Uganda has eight Labour unions registered in the teaching profession or Education sector which includes UNATU, UPSTU, Liberal Teachers Union (ULITU), Uganda Private Teachers Union (UPTU), National Union of Educational institutions (NUEI), University Professional and Academic Staff union and the recently registered Uganda Non – Teaching staff union.

Due to struggle for space in the education sector labour unions are fighting themselves instead of joining forces to demand from government pay rise for all teachers in the country.

The Ministries of Public Service, Education and Sports and Finance and Economic development should revisit and honour the June 22, 2018 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA ) signed with 10 Public Service Labour unions in the country.

Public service unions are  Uganda Medical Workers Union (UMWU), Uganda Local Government Workers Union (ULGWU), Uganda National Teachers Union (UNATU),  National Union of Educational Institutions (NUEI), Uganda Government and Allied Workers Union (UGAWU) University Professional and Academic Staff Union (UPASU),  Uganda Nurses and Midwives Union (UNMU),  Uganda Parastatal, Statutory Authority and Judiciary Workers (UPSAJWU), Uganda Science, Researchers and Allied Workers Union (USRAWU) and Uganda Farm and Agro Based Workers Union (UFABWU).

The CBA has provisions for proposals in salary enhancements, negotiations,  salary structure and  pay targets, pay policy for public service consultations,  check-off,  pay targets and outstanding commitments for each sector union with timelines in a phased manner , funding of  the Public Service  Negotiating and Consultative machinery, settlement of disagreement and review of the agreement.

Government should stop dividing teachers but conform to article 40 (b) under “ Economic rights” that guarantees  “Equal payment for equal work without discrimination”■

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