By Ivan Mwine
Lecturers at public universities in Uganda have announced a nationwide strike, demanding that unless their salaries are increased, they will not return to class.
The lectures, who strike comes a few days after secondary school arts teachers also staged a strike over salary increment, contend that the Ministry of Education and Sports and that of Finance have been playing ping-pong for a long time whenever they demand their salary increments, something they are not ready to stomach again.
However, it should be noted that their efforts are likely to hit a dead end because the Ministry of Education has since directed all the striking teachers to either return to their duty posts or risk losing their jobs.
According to a June 17 copied to the ministries of Education, Public Service, Finance, Gender and the Parliament, among others, the University academic staff through their umbrella body, Forum for Academic Staff of Public Universities in Uganda (FASPU), contend that they will lay down their tools unless their salaries are increased as was agreed in the past financial years.
The statement signed by the Acting Chairperson FASPU, Tom Omute, and chairpersons of academic staff associations of various public universities, reads in part thus; “The purpose of this letter is to inform you that the joint meeting between FASPU executive and chairpersons of the Council that was held on March 29, 2021 only suspended our industrial action. We notify you that all academic staff in public universities will resume their industrial strike if salary enhancement to the agreed targets is not addressed in the Financial Year 2022/2023.”
The statement adds thus; “Our members have been patient as the salary enhancement injustice continues to negatively affect them in many ways. Staff promotions have been undermined because of the huge salary differences, affecting our career growth.”
The leadership of FASPU said the matter of unfair salary enhancement can be solved once and for all.
Following this development, the public universities that are to be affected include; Makerere University, Kyambogo University, Makerere University Business School, Mbarara University, Gulu University, Lira University, Muni University, Kabale University, Soroti University, and Busitema University
It should however be noted that although the academic staff had declared industrial starting June 4, 2020, on October 8, 2020 the executive committee of FASPU sitting at Kyambogo University, requested all academic staff in all public universities to receive and teach students in final year “as our request to address the unfair salary enhancement is being handled”.
However, on realizing that their demands had not been catered for in the 2022/23 Financial Budget, the academic staff have since decided to resurrect the Industrial Action in a bid to compel government to meet their demands.