Filbert Baguma, the General Secretary of the Uganda National Teachers Union (UNATU), has stressed that the Arts teachers’ industrial action will continue unless the government responds to their plea for salary enhancement, just as it did with their science counterparts.
The teachers under their Umbrella body UNATU declared a sit-down strike last week following what they termed as “discriminatory enhancement of salaries".
In the Financial Year 2022/2023, graduate science and grade 4 teachers will get 4 million from 3 million and 1.1 million from 796,000 respectively. But Arts teachers got no salary enhancements.
Although the members of the body and officials from the government met with President Museveni over the same on Saturday, Baguma reported that it did not yield positive results.
On The Fatboy Show today, Baguma noted that much as striking is against their will, it is the only option that will prompt the government to respond to their situation.
“As teachers, it is not in our interest to stage an industrial action, but the government’s actions are forcing us and pushing us hard to the wall, leaving us with no option but to strike. We know that learners lost almost two years during the Covid 19 lockdown and that this is not the time learners would again be at home and not studying,” Baguma stated.
He added, “we have tabled our issues clearly to the government and requested it to give us a solution such that we can resume teaching. So, the time we will spend under strike will depend on how fast the government solves our issues.”
According to Baguma, UNATU and the government established a bargaining agreement in 2018 that stipulated the salary structure of teachers. It was to solve the recurring demonstrations over salary enhancement that happen almost every financial year.
He said that in 2018, other public servants got salary increments but teachers were left out. This prompted a strike that saw government come up with 150 billion shillings. 15 billion shillings were allocated to public universities and 130 billion to teachers of primary, secondary schools, and tertiary institutions.
“We went back to work hoping that government would come up with the balance for the other financial years. The agreement is expiring next year, and the figures in it are the ones we are asking for,” Mr. Baguma explained.
In the agreement, a primary teacher was supposed to earn 1.35 million shillings, a grade V Arts teacher 2.70 million, while the science teachers get 3 million in the FY 2022/2023. A graduate Arts teacher was to receive 4.5 million while the science teacher gets 4.8 million.
“Those are the figures in the signed agreement with the government, but it deviated from it and never communicated to us. When we raised the concern, they said we should wait as they prepare to pay every civil servant. Well, the question is there to wait for what and for how long?” he questioned.
The Fatboy show is hosted by James Onen aka Fatboy, Olive, and Sarah every weekday from 6 am to 10 am on RX Radio.