Parliament has approved a motion demanding a sustainable salary enhancement plan for all categories of public officers with clear budgetary indications and timelines for its implementation.
The motion was presented to Parliament by the Chairperson of the Education Committee, John Twesigye Ntamuhiira, who had been tasked by Speaker Anita Among to draught a motion and resolutions for the house for consideration, a task jointly undertaken with the Public Service Committee Chairperson, Godfrey Onzima, Erute South MP, Jonathan Odur, Shadow Minister of Education, Brenda Nabukenya, and Workers representative, Agnes Kunihira.
The directive by the Speaker followed an extensive debate on a statement delivered by the Minister of Public Service, Wilson Muruli Mukasa, regarding the salary enhancement for science teachers and the resultant industrial action by the Uganda National Teachers Union (UNATU).
The matter came up just days after teachers under UNATU called off their strike that had started on June 15, 2022, to compel the government to enhance their salaries with equity across the board. The strike resulted from the government’s decision to increase the pay for science teachers by nearly 300 percent.
The increment saw the government increase the pay for graduate and grade V science teachers to 4 million shillings and 3 million shillings, respectively, up from 1.1 million shillings and 796,000 shillings. During negotiations, teachers proposed that the government should either provide an additional budget to increase the salaries of art teachers or, for the sake of justice, split the available wage bill of 95 billion schillings among all teachers.
But the MPs argued that the government needs to implement a salary enhancement plan for public officers and called for continuous engagement with the public service unions through negotiation, consultations, and participation during the process. They went on to say that the Ugandan constitution guarantees equal treatment for all people in all aspects of political, economic, social, and cultural life, as well as equal protection under the law.
Ntamuhiira pointed out that despite the government’s pay policy for public officers and a commitment to no discrimination in pay, under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, a section of public officers, including medical doctors, nurses, and teachers, have held a series of strikes arising from the failure of the same government to honour its commitment to enhance their salaries.
Ntamuhiira said that although the policy adopted by the government to pay scientists better than their arts counterparts cannot be disputed, there is a need to carefully study its implementation to ensure that it does not cause strife and division among the public service labour force.
The Chairperson of the Public Service Committee, Godfrey Onzima, said that it is important for the government to come up with a comprehensive plan that can be implemented considering that the initial plan failed. Similarly, Jonathan Odur, the Erute South MP, is optimistic that the resolutions will solve the repeated industrial actions.
Meanwhile, Parliament also adopted an amendment moved by Ndorwa East MP Wilfred Niwagaba to compel all Accounting Officers not to make any discriminatory payments while implementing the Appropriation Act.