Teachers refuse to bow down to intimidation, vow to continue strike
By Racheal Nuwahereza
Following a letter by Catherine Bitarakwate Musingwiire, the Public Service Permanent Secretary where the government issued a directive that striking teachers should return to their duty stations by June 24th, or risk being scrapped off the payrolls, teachers under their umbrella body Uganda National Teachers Union (UNATU), have declared that their resumption of duty depends on how fast the ministries of public service and Finance conclude the review process and whether the outcome of the said review process is satisfactory.
Innocent Ahimbisibwe, the UNATU Chairperson Kazo Branch called upon teachers in Kazo district to stay firm until they receive what they want. He reminded teachers that the purpose of the industrial action is to ensure there is fair salary enhancement across board.
“There has been no satisfactory feedback from the government and therefore the only option is to continue with industrial action. We cannot give up the struggle without any positive outcome. The intimidation is deliberate and meant to scare you. Stay firm and remain at home, industrial action continues. If we endure the strain, we shall get to where we want to go. Do not give up!” said Ahimbisibwe.
A class teacher at Rwabwonyo Primary School in Gabarungi Ward-Kazo Town Council, who spoke to our reporter on condition of anonymity, said that they are tired of this government for its imbalanced actions.
“In 2019, teachers were promised to get what they are striking for and today in 2022 they recently made decision of discrimination in increment of salaries for teachers,” he said.
Adding that, they want to receive the positive response from the government but not the intimidations.
On Wednesday, Bitarakwate noted that the ongoing industrial strike by UNATU over what they referred to as discriminatory salary enhancements is illegal and in total breach the provisions of the collective bargaining agreement that was signed by government in 2018.
“The strike is illegal and in breach of the principles and spirit of the law and particularly sections7(2)(a) and (b); and 8(1) and (3) and the public service negotiating , consultative and Disputes Settlement Machinery Act, 2008 and the Recognition Agreement signed under this act because neither has UNATU given a notice to strike nor had the dispute Settlement Machinery been exhausted,” she said.
Adding that teachers’ demands cannot be addressed in the FY 2022/23.
“While government is committed to working with all parties towards achieving better salaries for all public servants, your demands for a salary enhancements cannot be addressed in the financial year 2022/23,” she said.
“By copy of this letter, the Chief Administrative Officers and Town Clerks are called upon to take stock of the teachers present and submit absent teachers by June 30,2023 foe eventual removal from payroll,” warned Birakwate.
Story by Mwebaze Deus