A section of MPs have expressed their support for the ongoing secondary school arts and primary school teachers’ strike, and called on government to present a supplementary budget to increase salaries.
Arts teachers and their primary school colleagues started their industrial action on June 15, a day after finance minister Matia Kasaija announced that science teachers had been included on the list of scientists whose salaries will be hugely enhanced starting July 2022.
On June 22, Public Service Ministry Permanent Secretary Catherine Bitarakwate Musingwiire told striking teachers to return to class or wait to be fired and replaced.
But MPs have now come out to support the striking teachers. Kalungu West MP Joseph Ssewungu opposed government’s decision to increase only science teachers’ salaries as discriminatory and contrary to Article 102b of the Constitution.
“All the teachers have teaching certificates and should not be discriminated against. The job description is the same and a teacher cannot be equated to a doctor,” said Ssewungu.
Igara West MP Gaffa Mbwatekamwa has assured teachers that the MPs will “continue fighting for their rights” and that “we shall be there for them.”
A teacher by profession, Mbwatekamwa blasted PS Bitarakwate for ordering Resident District Commissioners (RDCs) and Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs) to ensure that striking teachers leave their jobs and are replaced.
The Igara West MP insisted that most of the RDCs were not even as much educated as teachers, and dared them to parade their papers to prove him wrong.
“No officer, therefore, has the right to intimidate them as they have the freedom of collective bargaining. The officers who will do this should be ready to personally pay for the damages and costs that will arise from the court cases among others,” added Bugiri Municipality MP Asuman Basalirwa.
“The teachers are only demanding for their constitutional rights, they are government employees governed by the labour laws and protected by it.”
Buhweju County MP Francis Mwijukye warned government against forcing teachers to return to class.
“You can take the cow to the river or the well but you cannot force it to drink water. You can force teachers to classes but you will not force them to teach. If teachers go to school and they don’t teach but pretend to teach, who is going to lose? It is us losing,” said Mwijukye.
“Therefore, we cannot allow a situation where teachers are going to be forced to go back to school to teach against their will.”
A Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) MP and former aide to opposition kingpin Dr Kizza Besigye, Mwijukye said that the Ministry of Public Service should be protecting the teachers against threats. He also described PS Bitarakwate’s document as “unfair, illegitimate and is against the Employment Act.”
He made it clear that the teachers should not be forced to teach because it could be viewed as a political move.
“There should not be any form of division amongst people of the same profession in any way. They should be treated the same because one subject relies on others too,” he noted.
The MPs have now recommended that a supplementary budget be brought to Parliament to cater for the increment of salaries for both arts and science teachers.
In his budget speech read on Tuesday, Finance Minister Matia Kasaija announced that the salaries of science teachers, scientists and health workers will be increased in a ‘very big’ way starting July 2022. (Read Story Here).
MORE ON TEACHERS’ SALARY INCREMENT
MORE ON SALARY INCREMENT CIRCUS
In order to improve service delivery and end the challenge of strikes over low pay, President Museveni’s government has proposed huge salary increments for teachers, doctors and other employees starting July 2022. (Read Story Here)
The proposed increments have left many people wondering if government will really fulfill this pledge and increase salaries by very high amounts.
For example, opposition leader Dr Kizza Besigye has argued that the promise of salary increment is just ‘another lie.’ (Read Story Here).
Finance Minister Matia Kasaija recently said the money for increasing teachers’, doctors’ and other civil servants’ salaries was available. (Read Story Here).
In August 2021, cabinet approved salary increment for teachers, doctors and other health workers. (Read Story Here).
See the salary structure that had been proposed for the current financial year here.
Meanwhile, an NRM MP has angered teachers after telling them they are too poor to go on strike. (Read Story Here).