The Ministry of Public Service has given two days ultimatum for all striking teachers to resume their duties.
On June 15, 2022, teachers under Uganda National Teachers Union (UNATU) staged industrial action citing discriminatory salary enhancement and government’s failure to honour collective bargaining agreement signed in 2018.
Mrs. Catherine Bitarakwate Musingwiire, the Permanent Secretary said government is committed toward salary enhancement for all public officers.
“This is evidenced by the phased salary enhancement that has so far been achieved, its 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 of against Covid-19. The priority of the government was addressing Covid-19 not salary enhancement,” she said.
She said the current enhancement for 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 workforce in all aspects of life but more in science. This in our view will attract and retain the critical skill that is required by the country at this material time.”
Whereas teachers like other government employees have rights and freedom enjoyed under constitution and others laws, including the right to withdraw labour, Bitarakwate said the current industrial action by members of UNATU is illegal and in breach of principals and spirit of the law particular section 7 (2)(a) and (b) and 8 (1) and (3) and Public Service Negotiating, Consultative and Dispute Settlement Machinery Act 2008 and Recognition Agreement signed and this Act because neither has UNATU 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 new notice is both fallacious and not legally tenable. We have noted with concern that you and your members have decided to close schools. We wish to advise you that no teacher, whether on strike or not, has the legal right or jurisdiction to close a public school without the concurrence of the government,” she said.
She said while the government is committed to working with all parties towards achieving better salaries for public servants, teacher’s demands for salary enhancement cannot be addressed in the financial year 2022/2023.
She urged teachers to resume their duties at their respective work station by 24th July 2022. Any teacher who doesn’t comply with this call will be regarded as having absconded from duty and resigned from public service in accordance with section A-N of the public service Standing orders 2021.
“Teachers who are not willing to work under the prevailing terms and conditions are free to withdraw their labour provided for under section A-N of the public service Standing orders 2021. Teachers who don’t agree to the above to seek legal redress in courts of law,” she said.
She urged town clerks and Chief Administrative officers to take stock of teachers present and submit absent teachers by the 30th June 2022 for eventual removal from payroll.
Zadock Tumuhimbise, the chairperson of Uganda National Teachers Union (UNATU) said; “we have received the intimidating letter as expected. Whatever we are doing is within the provisions of the law. We are very safe.”
“Our legal teams are on course to make a response to the letter. Soon our official spokesperson will give us a detailed update. Otherwise; the Industrial Action is still on course. Keep consistent,” he said.