KAMPALA — About 250 members of the Uganda National Teachers Union (Unatu) across the country are expected to meet President Museveni Monday over the ongoing strike, the union’s leadership has revealed.
“We are meeting the President tomorrow. The venue is not yet confirmed but we are meeting him at 11am over the issue of Arts teachers’ salary enhancement, “Unatu’s General Secretary, Mr Filbert Baguma said in a telephone interview Sunday.
“We expect to get feedback on our issue of salary enhancement in the 2022/2023 financial year. Nothing else,” Mr Baguma added.
Mr Baguma said that about 250 Unatu members arrived in Kampala Sunday to attend an emergency meeting that the union’s leadership convened to discuss the two letters that they received from the Ministry of Public service this week, directing teachers to resume work.
He said that during Sunday’s meeting, Unatu members resolved to continue with the industrial action until their salary is enhanced.
“Members came from all districts municipalities and cities. The status quo remains. Industrial action continues. What the teachers want is an increment this financial year. No going back before receiving money,” Mr Baguma said.
Public Service Minister Mr Wilson Muruli Mukasa and his Permanent Secretary, Ms Catherine Bitarakwate wrote to Unatu leadership and directed teachers go back and teach since government was committed to enhancing salaries for all public servants but in a phased manner.
“My fellow teachers, go back and teach. The President and the top leadership of the country has considered enhancement of the scientists in financial year, 2022/2023. Enhancement of all the teachers and other employees in the public service shall be included in the medium and long run as resources become available through further expansion of sectors like agriculture, services, ICT and Industry,” Muruli said
“The matter has been discussed and consultations escalated to the Executive arm of government and therefore, this is to request that in the interest of our learners and in view of the ongoing recovery of the lost time, your esteemed and valued teaching fraternity resumes teaching at the earliest time,” Ms Bitarakwate also said in her letter to the teachers dated June 30.
In response to the letters, Mr Baguma called for a crisis meeting for members of the National Executive Council and branch managers to decide the fate of teachers who are currently on industrial action over what they describe as discriminatory salary enhancement.
“On June 30, we received two letters. One was signed by the Permanent Secretary in Ministry of Public Service and the second letter was signed by the minister of public service and written to me and our National Chairman, Mr Zadoc Tumuhimbise giving us the position of government,” Mr. Baguma said.
“As a result, we have invited members of the National Executive Council for a meeting on Sunday morning and all branch chairpersons in the afternoon to discuss these two letters and come up with a position of the union. The entire leadership has to make a final decision,” he added.
The arts teachers through their umbrella body, Unatu, laid down their tools on June 15 over a pay rise paralyzing teaching and learning in most government schools.
Since then, Unatu has held a number of meetings with the top leadership of the government and line ministries to try and find a solution to their grievances.
The most recent meeting was convened by the Vice President Ms Jessica Alupo last week, where she appealed to teachers to call off their strike as negotiations continue to enable learners resume studies.
The Vice President also assured Unatu leadership that attended the meeting that the resolutions would be shared with President Museveni for guidance.