Nabbanja threatens dismissal, Mugasa promises salary increment, Byaruhanga hopeful increment to curb corruption

Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja, addresses Catholic faithful at St Mary's Catholic Church, Kyatiri in Masindi District on Friday. She threatened to dismiss striking teachers if they don't resume work. Left is Masindi District woman MP, Dr Florence Asiimwe while on the right is Buruli County MP, Mr Aled Ronald Akugizibwe. (Image: Moses Andama)

Following complaints from a section of parents of Kyatiri primary school in Masindi District that their children were not learning as a result of the arts teachers’ strike, Prime Minister, Ms Robinah Nabbanja, ordered the teachers in public schools to report back to school for duty or else be fired.

This was while she was chief guest at a fundraising drive for the construction of St Mary’s Catholic Church at Kyatiri village in Masindi district last Sunday.

The arts teachers’ strike followed President Yoweri Museveni’s pronouncement that science teachers salaries must be enhanced for motivation so the country can produce a big number of scientists.

Following the report, Ms Nabbanja directed the Masindi Resident District Commissioner, Mr Emmy Ngabirano, to roll-call all teachers in the district on Monday, June 20, 2022.

“I direct you to go to school on Monday to make roll calls. In case of absence of any teacher, no tolerance and they should leave teaching for those who can,” Ms Nabbanja roared.

The leader of government business who is also the Kakumiro District Woman Member of Parliament, said that government does not have money to enhance salaries for all civil servants at the same time.

“We have increased the salary of medical workers. We can’t increase it for all civil servants at the same time because government doesn’t have money,” Ms Nabbanja, who is a primary school teacher by profession continued.

However, the teachers stuck to their decision and did not resume work.

Ms Nabbanja’s threat was followed by that of the Ministry of Public Service Permanent Secretary, Ms Catherine Bitarakwate, who also said that any teacher who would not resume work by Friday, June 24, 2022 “would be fired”.

Some teachers this website interacted with Friday, refused to go back to school until the government met their demand.

Public Service State Minister, Ms Grace Mary Mugasa, talks about civil servants’ salary increment while at Country Inn in Masindi Town on Thursday. Right is Dr Florence Asiimwe Akiiki, the Masindi District woman Member of Parliament. (Image: Moses Andama)

While at the launch of the Parish Development Model (PDM) programme in Masindi district at Country Inn in Masindi town on Thursday, Public Service State Minister, Ms Grace Mary Mugasa, said civil servants’ salary enhancement will be done in phases.

Audio: Mugasa on salary enhancement (English)

The minister who is the former Mayor of Hoima city, said once salary is increased, supervision will be scaled up for value for money adding that any civil servant’s output that will not reflect value for salary will not be tolerated.

Audio: Mugasa on value for salary (English)

The Masindi District Chairman, Mr Cosmas Byaruhanga, was hopeful that once salary is increased, it will relatively curb the rampant cases of corruption that have cancerously eaten away the moral fibres of society in Uganda’s public offices.

“I’m sure if government enhances salary for all civil servants, there will be a reduction on corruption especially for those who have not been satisfied with their salaries tempting them to extort money from people,” Mr Byaruhanga said.

Masindi District Chairman, Mr Cosmas Byaruhanga speaks at salary enhancement at Country Inn Masindi on Thursday. (Image: Moses Andama)

Now, legislators want the government to treat teachers equally following the increment in the salaries for science teachers in public schools.

The increment which commences in the new Financial Year 2022/2023 locks out arts teachers, a development that has caused acrimony among different stakeholders with the Uganda National Teacher’s Union (UNATU) announcing a sit-down strike for the affected teachers which started on Wednesday, June 15, 2022.

UNATU also cited failure by government to honour a collective bargaining agreement arrived at in 2018 to enhance salaries.

In a press conference held on Thursday, June 23, 2022, at Parliament, MPs expressed discontent with the decision taken by government giving teachers a two-day ultimatum within which to cease their industrial action.

According to Buhweju County MP, Mr Francis Mwijukye, government is issuing threats against UNATU through the Ministry of Public Service.

“The Ministry of Public Service should be protecting the teachers against threats. The document released by them is unfair, illegitimate and is against the Employment Act,” Mr Mwijukye said.

He added that the teachers should not be forced to teach because it could be viewed as a political move.

“There should not be any form of division amongst people of the same profession in any way. They should be treated the same because one subject relies on others too,” he noted.

Bugiri Municipality MP, Mr Asuman Basalirwa, described the ongoing situation as a crisis that needs to be addressed.

“The teachers are only demanding for their constitutional rights. They are government employees governed by the labour laws and protected by it,” he said.

Mr Basalirwa also cautioned government officers trying to implement the directives by the Government.

“No officer, therefore, has the right to intimidate them [teachers] as they have the freedom of collective bargaining. The officers who will do this should be ready to personally pay for the damages and costs that will arise from the court cases among others,” Mr Basalirwa cautioned.

He recommended that a supplementary budget should be put in place for equitable rights of both the science and arts teachers.

The legislator also said that government should withdraw the ‘threatening document’ and rather engage and negotiate with the teachers.

Mr Joseph Ssewungu, the Kalungu West County said that the decision to pay science teachers in exclusion of arts teachers is discriminatory according to Article 102b of the Constitution.

“All the teachers have teaching certificates and should not be discriminated against. The job description is the same and a teacher cannot be equated to a doctor,” he said.

Mr Ssewungu advised the Ministry of Public Service to be technocrats who give ideas and advise Parliament to make better decisions for Ugandans.

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