Dr Jane Ruth Aceng

Government has appealed to all civil servants in the country to wait for the completion of the salary harmonization exercise and its implementation before they can take industrial action.

According to state minister of Public Service David Karubanga, government is final stages of delivering the public service pay policy which he says, will eliminate pay disparities and ensure pay enhancement across the public sector.

A Cabinet meeting chaired by President Yoweri Museveni in July tasked Public Service minister Wilson Muruli Mukasa to provide a comprehensive package for civil servants’ remuneration within two months, following a study report that revealed huge salary  disparities within the public service.

“This exercise is in its final stages. Pay proposals were developed and are now being appraised to ascertain their viability and long-term sustainability. It is expected that by end of November 2017, Government will pronounce itself on the matter,” minister Karugaba said Wednesday in a government statement on the on-going doctors’ industrial action that started Monday and already has hit public hospitals hard, some reporting cases of death due to the medics’ absence at their work stations.

Doctors under the Uganda Medical Association (UMA) laid down their tools on Monday, against claims that Government has not heeded to their demands for better remuneration and favourable working conditions in public hospitals.

According to health minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, a series of engagements had been held at different administrative and political levels to address the doctors’ concerns before they laid down their tools.

Dr Aceng said government has taken note of some issues raised by the medical workers in the country, saying government will continue to pay intern doctors allowances but also pay senior house officers after completing the salary verification exercise.

She says government recognizes UMA as an association of some medical doctors but that Government signs recognition agreements with Public Service Labour Unions for purposes of negotiation and collective bargaining on matters concerning the welfare and working conditions of workers.

“For the workers in the Health Sector, Uganda Medical Workers’ Union and Uganda Nurses and Midwives’ Union signed recognition agreements,” she says.

She says Government will continue to engage all stakeholders on the issues raised by the health workers with the view of addressing them in a holistic manner.

“Government would like to appreciate the efforts of all the health workers who have continued to deliver services to the public despite the challenges. In a special way, Government applauds all patriotic health workers who remained at their work stations to save lives,” Dr. Aceng says.

She has appealed to all medical doctors to return to work immediately, saying their concerns are being addressed.“Once again Government would like to reiterate its commitment to improving the welfare of all Health workers and other Public Servants in general,” she said.

Meanwhile, workers in local governments and Makerere University say they are prepared for industrial action if government does not address their salary concerns.

A study report on salary disparities in public service released by the Equal Opportunities Commission in June this year raised eyebrows among civil servants, some wondering why they receive low salaries compared to their counterparts with the same qualifications.

Uganda Civil Service refers to all employees in government and government agencies other than the security related agencies. The civil servants are responsible for delivering public services to the public.  The government of Uganda has over 320,000 civil servants in its various departments and agencies. But those in agencies earn far much more than those in ministries.

Uganda’s civil service structure has been transformed from being a highly centralized traditional civil service model into a decentralized structure with most of the authority and resources now being devolved to the districts.   This, according to government, provides for more accountability and responsive provision of basic services to the population.