KAMPALA– The Ministry of Public Service has ordered government employed teachers to resume duty at their respective workstations by June 24, 2022 without fail or face dismissal.
The directive by the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Catherine Bitarakwate follows an ongoing industrial strike by the Uganda National Teachers Union (UNATU) against what they referred to as discriminatory salary enhancements, the development that has since been described by Bitarakwate as illegal and in total breach the provisions of the collective bargaining agreement that was signed by government in 2018.
UNATU general Secretary Filbert Baguma revealed that they last week met with the President Yoweri Museveni in the presence of other senior government officials to express their discontent and the matter handed over to the Ministry of Public Service and Finance Ministry to review the proposed pay plan and ensure that their pay is enhanced to.
He, however, noted that the industrial action continues as they await the outcome of the review process.
“Our resumption of duty is dependent 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 and address the issue of fair salary enhancement for all teachers across the board,” he said in a statement.
Now Bitarakwate has in a strong worded letter said that while teachers like all other employees of government have rights including the right to withdraw labour, the current strike is illegal and in breach of the law.
“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.
She further noted that 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.
Bitarakwate revealed that the 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.
She has noted that teachers who do not comply to the call of returning to duty will be regarded as having abandoned duty and resigned from the Public service.
“The teachers who are not willing to work under the prevailing terms and conditions are free to withdraw from labour and those who do not agree are advised to seek legal redress to courts of law,” reads an excerpt from the statement.
“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.”