Threats Aside, Come We Talk Peace Now: PS Bitarakwate Calls UNATU Bosses Over Strike

Threats Aside, Come We Talk Peace Now: PS Bitarakwate Calls UNATU Bosses Over Strike

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By Spy Uganda

The Ministry of Public Service Permanent Secretary Ms Catherine Bitarakwate Musingwire has swallowed her recent threats against teachers on strike and instead invited them for talks.

This has been revealed in her letter dated June 28th 2022 addressed to the Secretary General of Uganda National Teachers Union (UNATU) inviting him for a meeting scheduled for Friday July 1st 2022 at the Ministry of Public Service Boardroom.

Public Service Letter

Bitarakwate asked the UNATU Secretary General Filbert Baguma to go with other 4 members of the Union Executive Members to discuss issues raised by UNATU that sparked off an industrial action that started on June 15th 2022.

The invitation by the Permanent Secretary comes after the UNATU Secretary General asked the teachers to stay at home until the government addresses the issue of salary enhancement disparities.

Bitarakwate last week issued a letter ordering striking teachers to return to their duty stations by June 24, without fail or risk being scrapped off the payrolls.

In her letter, Bitarakwate said that whereas teachers just like all other government employees, have rights and freedoms to withdraw their labor, the union neither gave the government notice of the strike nor exhausted the dispute settlement mechanisms as required by the Public Service Negotiating, Consultative and Dispute Settlement Machinery Act.

“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 noticed 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 a right or justification to close a public school,” the June 22, 2022 letter reads in part.

The current strike resulted from the government’s decision to increase the pay for science teachers nearly by 300 percent in disregard of their colleagues in arts and humanities. The increment saw the government increase the pay for graduate and grade V science teachers to Shillings 4 million and Shillings 3 million up from Shillings 1.1 million and Shillings 796,000 respectively.

With over 120,000 teachers dropping chalk and refusing to attend lessons, the government hurriedly called for a dialogue meeting over the weekend to find a quick solution. Both President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports, Janet Kataaha Museveni attended the meeting.

If it is to be distributed equally across the board to the 169,000 teaching staff, it means that each teacher would get an additional Shillings 46,800/- per month. It should be noted that UNATU has already proposed a salary raise plan for all teachers and other staff. According to UNATU’s draft, secondary school and primary head teachers should receive Shillings 10 million and Shillings 4.5 million respectively.

UNATU is also pushing the government to pay shillings 4.8 million to graduate science teachers and shillings 4.5 million to those teaching arts and humanities.  They are also advocating for a Shillings 1.35 million minimum wage for primary school teachers. However, our reporter has also learned that President Museveni has already proposed a minimum pay of Shillings 3.5 million for art teachers.

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