By Sarah Achen Kibisi.
The Speaker of Uganda Parliament, Hon. Anita Among has directed the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister also Leader of Government Business Hon. Robinah Nabbanja to consider taking a final position on the plight of teachers, detailing long term plans by Government in addressing the matter holistically and sustainably. She said there is no way Parliament would just sit down and watch while workers’ rights are violated with impunity while learners reemain home losing education.
The issue of teacher’s salary disparities was raised by Dokolo Woman MP Cecilia Ogwal saying the issue of salary disparities between Arts and Science teachers had resulted in the recent industrial action by Arts teachers. “There is even a situation where the salary of a science teacher doubles the one of the head teacher,” Ogwang urged.
Opposition Whip, John Baptist Nambeshe said the selective salary enhancement for teachers was discriminatory in nature and has opened a paradox box. “Government is even on notice by and we are likely to have many more including that from health workers.”
Nambeshe called the house to also prevail over the powers that be in the event that there is no salary remuneration review commission that could harmonize wages for public sector workers.
The developments culminated in President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni holding a meeting with Uganda National Teachers Union (UNATU) leadership and workers members of Parliament on July 4, 2022 at Kololo Ceremonial grounds. Later UNATU agreed to call off the countrywide industrial action that had paralaysed the education sector. President Museveni said while government acknowledges the issues raised by the Arts teachers he added that salaries for other workers like the Police and army is equally important to the development of the country. He said they provided a position as government and pledged to competitively remunerate workers guided by a science – led strategy.
“We have not fogotten other workers but we are choosing to prioritise the few and others can come later.
But arts teachers under the guidance of UNATU insisted that government uses available resources to improve salaries for all teachers without discrimination.
UNATU General Secretary Mr Philbert Baguma told the Workers Eye that the decision to call off the strrike was reached after holding an in-depth discussion with National Organisation of Trade Unions (NOTU), workers MPS and government.
“We discussed the advantages and disadvantages of two options to put into account the interests of innocent learners and interests of our members, and we resolved to suspend industrial action,” he said.
Mr Baguma, who has lately been reduced by President Yoweri Museveni into a ” punching bag” , said negotiations are not about winning but agreeing to take the right path on matters pertaining to discussing the plight of teachers.
He said: ” UNATU will continue engaging government and giving constant updates to members, stakeholders and the public.” he said. NOTU Chairman General Mr Usher Wilson Owere told the Workers Eye that as trade union leaders they have engaged government with view to enhancing teachers’ salaries without discrimination. “I would like to assure teachers that we have set the ball rolling in ensuring salary rise for all public servants”■