Ministry of Public Service Permanent Secretary, Ms Catherine Bitarakwate, has ordered government employed teachers to resume duty at their respective workstations by June 24, 2022, without fail or face dismissal.
The directive follows an ongoing industrial strike by the Uganda National Teachers Union (UNATU) against what they referred to as discriminatory salary enhancements, a development that has since been described by Ms Bitarakwate as illegal and in total breach of the provisions of the collective bargaining agreement that was signed by government in 2018.
UNATU General Secretary, Mr Filbert Baguma, revealed that last week they met President Yoweri Museveni in the presence of other senior government officials to express their discontent and the matter was handed over to the Ministries of Public Service and Finance to review the proposed pay plan and ensure that their pay is enhanced too.
He, however, noted that the industrial action continues as they await for the outcome of the review process.
“Our resumption of duty is dependent on how fast the ministries of public service and finance conclude the review process and whether the outcome of the said review process is satisfactory and addresses the issue of fair salary enhancement for all teachers across the board,” he said in a statement.
Now, Ms Bitarakwate has in a strong worded letter said that while teachers like all other employees of government have rights including the right to withdraw labour, the current strike is illegal and in breach of the law.
“The strike is illegal and in breach of the principles and spirit of the law and particularly sections 7(2) (a) and (b); and 8(1) and (3) and the public service negotiating, consultative and Disputes Settlement Machinery Act, 2008 and the Recognition Agreement signed under this Act because neither has UNATU given a notice to strike nor had the dispute Settlement Machinery been exhausted,” she said.
The Permanent Secretary further noted that the claim that the strike had been ongoing since 2019 and hence there was no need for a new notice is both fallacious and not legally tenable.
Ms Bitarakwate revealed that the teachers’ demands cannot be addressed in the FY 2022/23.
“While government is committed to working with all parties towards achieving better salaries for all public servants, your demands for salary enhancements cannot be addressed in the financial year 2022/23,” she said.
She said that teachers who do not comply with the call of returning to duty will be regarded as having abandoned duty and resigned from the public service.
“The teachers who are not willing to work under the prevailing terms and conditions are free to withdraw from labour and those who do not agree are advised to seek legal redress to courts of law,” reads an excerpt from the statement.
“By copy of this letter, the Chief Administrative Officers and Town Clerks are called upon to take stock of the teachers present and submit absent teachers by June 30, 2022, for eventual removal from payroll.”
See full statement
MINISTRY OF PUBLIC SERVICE PLOT 12 NAKASERO HILL ROAD
P.O. BOX 7003 KAMPALA UGANDA
In any correspondence on ADM/218/264/0 1
this subject please quote no. ………………..
22nd June 2022
The General Secretary
Uganda National Teachers’ Union (UNATU)
P. Box 377 KAMPALA
UGANDA NATIONAL TEACHERS’ UNION’S CONCERN OVER PROPOSED SEGGREGATIVE SALARY ENHANCEMENT AND CALL FOR INDUSTRIAL ACTION
Reference is made to your letter Ref: UNATU/MPS/05/022 dated 25th May 2022 and the Press Release of 11th June 2022 calling for industrial action by all the members of Uganda National Teachers’ Union (UNATU) with effect from l5th June 2022. The grounds of the industrial action cited in the Press Release include discriminatory salary enhancement and failure by Government to honour 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 enhancement that has 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 the survival against Covid-19. The priority of Government was addressing Covid-19 and not enhancement of salaries.
The current enhancement for the science teachers was informed by the available resources, the number of teachers involved and the impact that can be made by the scientists to the development of this country. We have no doubt that you agree that we need an educated work force in all aspects of life but more in the sciences. This in our view will attract and retain the crucial skill that is required by the country at this material time.
Mission: To provide human resource policies, management systems and structures that facilitate efficient and effective public service performance [or national development and improved quality o/life in Uganda
Whereas Teachers like all other employees of Government have rights and freedoms enjoyed under the Constitution and relevant laws, including the right to withdraw labour, the current Industrial Action by the members of UNATU is illegal and in breach of the principles and spirit of the law and particularly Sections 7(2)(a) and (b); and 8 (1) and (3) and the Public Service Negotiating, Consultative and Disputes Settlement Machinery Act, 2008 and the Recognition Agreement signed under this Act because neither has UNATU given a notice to strike nor had the Dispute Settlement Machinery been exhausted.
The claim that the strike had been ongoing since 2019 and hence there was no need for a new notice is both fallacious and not legally tenable.
Secondly, we have noted with concern that you and your membership have decided to close the schools. We wish to advise you that no Teacher, whether on strike or not, has the legal right or justification to close a public school without the concurrence of the Government of Uganda.
While the Government is committed to working with all parties towards achieving better salaries for all Public Servants, your demands for a salary enhancement cannot be addressed in the Financial Year 2022/23.
With that in mind, the purpose of this letter is to communicate as follows:
1. All Government employed Teachers are advised to resume duty at their respective workstations by 24th June 2022 without fail.
2. Any Government employed Teachers who does not comply to this call will be regarded as having abandoned duty and resigned from the Public Service in accordance with Section A-n (17) of the Uganda Public Service Standing Orders, 2021.
3. The Teachers who are not willing to work under the prevailing terms and conditions are free to withdraw their labour as provided for under Section A-n (11) of the Public Service Standing Orders.
4. Those who do not agree to any of the above are advised to seek legal redress in Courts of law.
Government has not issued any directive for closure of any school and therefore any contrary instructions to learners are regarded as illegal. All schools are expected to proceed with the Ministry of Education and Sports school calendar for the 2″d Term 2022.
By copy of this letter, the Chief Administrative Officers and Town Clerks are called upon to take stock of the Teachers present and submit absent Teachers by the 30th June 2022 for eventual removal from the payroll.
Catherine Bitarakwate Musingwiire (Mrs) PERMANENT SECRETARY
Rt. Hon. Prime Minister of the Republic of Uganda
First Lady and Hon. Minister of Education and Sports
Hon. Minister of Public Service
Hon. Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development
Hon. Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development
Hon. Attorney General,
Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs
Head of Public of Public Service and Secretary to Cabinet
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education and Sports
Permanent Secretary/Secretary to the Treasury
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Local Government
All Chief Administrative Officers — District Local Governments
All Town Clerks — City and Municipal Councils