Speaker of Parliament Anita Among has constituted a committee of five lawmakers to draft a motion, which will include resolutions calling on government to address the grievances of teachers of arts subjects.
The committee members include:- Chairperson of the Committee on Education and Sports, Hon. John Ntamuhira; Chairperson of the Committee on Public Service and Local Government, Hon. Godfrey Onzima; Shadow Minister of Education, Hon. Brenda Nabukenya; Erute County South MP, Hon. Jonathan Odur and Workers Representative, Hon. Agnes Kunihira.
“If you have issues that you want to raise, take them to that committee so that we do not debate again. We only adopt the resolutions,” Among said.
She added: “The fact that the report of the education committee was also distorted and was adopted by this House, I would now want a motion to be presented tomorrow on the resolutions that the House passed on the report of education on the action plans. That is what we should resolve.”
The Speaker’s ruling followed a statement by the Minister of Public Service, Wilson Muruli Mukasa during plenary on Wednesday, 06 July 2022, on enhancement pay of public officers and the recent industrial action by the Uganda National Teachers’ Union (UNATU).
The industrial action was only suspended on Monday, 04 June 2022 following a meeting between the UNATU leadership and government officials and also attended by President Yoweri Museveni at the Kololo Ceremonial Grounds in the capital, Kampala.
Among said that the minister’s report did not indicate clear actions to address the grievances of teachers of arts subjects.
“Government says they are implementing salary enhancement in a phased manner. If it was effective, we would not be witnessing the industrial action. This is an embarrassment to us,” she said.
She said that education is an important aspect of skilling the population, and therefore, the teachers have to be motivated.
“A population of unhappy teachers will not groom better leaders. You are better leaders because of the teachers. We hope for lasting solutions,” she said.
She added that whilst the country is still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic which affected the national resource envelope, government has the duty to ensure equity in salary enhancement of public servants.
Hon. Nabukenya, recommended equitable allocation of the monies budgeted for science teachers to benefit arts teachers as well, saying that since 2012, science teachers have been getting 30 percent over and above their counterparts.
“Government should immediately present an Amendment Bill to the Appropriation Act for Parliament to provide additional financing for purposes of enhancing wages for all teachers, including arts teachers,” she added.
Nabukenya also called for the fast-tracking of the establishment of a Salary Review Commission to streamline earnings for all public officers.
Hon. Christine Apolot (NRM, Kumi district Woman MP) warned that the decision by the teachers to call off the industrial action does not mean that learners are studying.
“Teachers are not teaching. They will not teach until their grievances have been addressed,” she said.
Hon. Christine Akello (NRM, Erute County North) called on government to address the challenge of ill-equipped laboratories, instead of increasing salaries of teachers of arts subjects.
“Worst performing subjects in rural schools are sciences and the problem is the laboratories and half-baked teachers. We should motivate all the teachers,” she said.
Workers Representative, Hon. Agnes Kunihira said that by enhancing salaries of teachers of sciences, government is setting a bad precedent, especially for the Non-Governmental Organisations.
“Government cannot violate the rights of workers and expect NGOs to act otherwise. Teachers are living miserably, they cannot afford to take their children to school and yet they are teaching other children. Parliament should take a serious decision,” she said.
Hon. Amos Okot (NRM, Agago North County) who was speaking in reference to government’s alleged threats to delete striking teachers from the payroll, said that such threats only worsen the situation.
Amuru district woman MP, Hon. Lucy Akello proposed that since the decision to enhance salaries of teachers of science subjects has not yet been implemented, it should be halted.
Minister Muruli Mukasa in his statement, explained that the enhancement of the salaries of all public servants is being undertaken in a phased manner, in accordance with the pay policy principles and targets approved by cabinet in 2017.
“Cabinet has considered prioritising enhancement of scientists, including science teachers in the Financial Year 2022/2023. The scientists are crucial and needed immediately in supporting agriculture, industry, information and communication technology and infrastructural development,” said Muruli Mukasa.
The minister added: “The government intends to enhance the pay of all its employees in the medium term as the resources through the further expansion of the economic sectors that have expanded.”
He also said that government will hold further negotiations with the leadership of the labour unions on the implementation of the 2018 Collective Bargaining Agreement, to ensure proper timelines of salary enhancement is provided.
“What is clear is that at the beginning of the next financial year, we shall continue with enhancement and indeed certain sectors of the public, including the teachers will be enhanced,’ he said.
Regarding the UNATU strike, Muruli Mukasa refuted allegations of intimidation of teachers to return for duty.
“The leaders agreed to put off the strike. MPs representing workers were part of the meeting,” he said.
Primary teachers and teachers of arts subjects in government-aided schools across the country went on a sit-down strike on 15 June 2022, protesting what they called ‘discriminatory’ salary increment in favour of the teachers of science subjects.