Government has ordered all Resident District and City Commissioners to, starting Monday, compile lists of defiant arts teachers present in government schools following the elapsing of the Friday deadline given to striking teachers to return to the classes.
The Minister of ICT and National Guidance, Dr. Chris Baryomunsi, while addressing the media in Kabale town, said the government is ready to take on teachers who will run to courts of law for redress.
Baryomunsi adds that the defiant teachers will be relieved of their duties and possibly prosecuted for absconding their duties.
“There is some element of politics. This is not a honest protest. It is being fuelled by ill intentioned people who want to put this government down,” Baryomunsi stated. “We hereby instruct all RDCs to arrest any teacher found evading his or her duties,” he added.
As of Monday, the Uganda National Teachers’ Association Filbert Baguma maintained that their engagement with officials from the Ministry of Education, and the Public Service Ministry did not harbour fruit.
He encouraged the arts teachers to soldier on with the protest till their cries are heard.
The ministry’s Permanent Secretary Catherine Bitarakwate, last week directed all government-employed teachers to resume duty at their respective workstations by June 24, 2022 without fail. She also instructed chief administrative officers and town clerks to take stock of teachers present and submit absent teachers by the June 30, for eventual removal from the payroll.
“All government-employed teachers are advised to resume duty at their respective workstations by June 24, 2022, without fail. Any governmentemployed teacher who does not comply with this call will be regarded as having abandoned duty, resigned from public service under Section A-N (17) of the Uganda Public Service Standing Orders 2021,” Bitarakwate said.
“The teachers who are not willing to work under the prevailing terms and conditions are free to withdraw their labor as provided for under Section A-N (11) of the Public Service Standing Orders. Those who do not agree to any of the above are advised to seek legal redress in the courts of law,” the permanent secretary said.
Bitarakwate was responding to UNATU’s letter, dated May 25, 2022, and UNATU’s press release dated June 11, 2022, calling for industrial action by all their members with effect from June 15, 2022, on grounds that included discriminatory salary enhancement and failure by the Government to honor the collective bargaining agreement signed in 2018.
“The Government wishes to reiterate its commitment towards salary enhancement for all public officers. This is evidenced by the phased salary enhancements that have so far been achieved, whose implementation will continue within the available resources. For example, in the last two years we have had to put aside other priorities to deal with survival in the face of COVID-19 and not an enhancement of salaries,” Bitarakwate said.
She said the current enhancement for the science teachers’ salaries was informed by the available resources, the number of teachers involved, and the impact that can be made by the scientists on the development of the country.
“We do not doubt that you agree that we need an educated workforce in all aspects of life, but more so in the sciences. This in our view will attract and retain crucial skills that are required by the country at this material time.
In related development, Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja pleaded with the striking teachers to be patriotic and serve the nation.
“Teaching is a service committed to the nation. Let’s be patriotic as we handle this matter,” she said.
UNATU maintains strike in response, Filbert Baguma, the UNATU general secretary, said they were determined to pursue their course and would not be intimidated.
“We presented our issues to Government and we expect them to give us satisfactory feedback. Instead of satisfactory feedback, they are now coming up with intimidation. We are not ready to be intimidated because what we did was legally protected. We have followed the law to the dot. We have all the documents. The author of that letter (Bitarakwate) was part of the negotiations all through. She even signed the collective bargaining agreement and for her to wake up today and say it is illegal and that the Government doesn’t have money in 2022/23, is uncalled for,” Baguma said.
In the last budget speech read last week, the finance minister announced that sh900b had been earmarked for the enhancement of salaries for scientists, including science teachers.
However, UNATU has opposed the selective enhancement of salaries for science teachers, insisting that this contradicted their CBA with the Government.
Effective July 1, all non-medical science graduates, including science teachers, will earn sh4m and medical graduates sh5m.
Diploma holder science teachers will earn sh3m per month. In comparison, graduate arts teachers earn sh960,000-sh1.3m depending on experience. Diploma arts teachers are paid sh745,000- sh784,000
More protests are anticipated with some sources suggesting that even local government authorities too will lay down their tools on July 1st.