Kampala, Uganda | GODFREY SSALI | The Minister of Health Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng has told parliament that the Sh29 million given to Members of Parliament (MPs) to consult on the proposal to ammend the constitution, sparked the ongoing industrial strike of government doctors.
Parliament released the money recently to allow countrywide for consultation regarding the amendment of article 102b of the constitution to among other things remove the age limit for the presidency.
Aceng Thursday told MPs on the parliamentary committee chaired by Dr. Micheal Yiga Bukenya (Bukuya) that in a meeting between government and doctors, they alluded that if MPs can be given money urgently even doctors can be considered.
“We had convinced the doctors to wait for the salary review commission and the negotiations were moving on smoothly but the final nail in the coffin was the release of the 29m shillings which some Mps have returned calling it a bribe,” said Aceng
Aceng’s view was corroborated by Serere woman MP Helen Adoa who said MPs should always be mindful of the public sentiments as they allocate themselves huge amounts of money in terms of salaries and allowances.
‘Strike is illegal’
Later in the day, Minister Aceng called a press conference where she declared the strike illegal.
“The Ministry of Health wrote to the Solicitor General for advice and received clarification that Uganda Medical Association (UMA) is not a registered association and cannot enjoy rights,immunities and privileges provided under Labor union Act,” she said.
“The involvement of UMA in calling on doctors to strike should stop and perpetuators should be treated as trespassers,” she charged, adding that ” the strike by UMA is illegal. All medical workers who were misled to join the strike must resume duty with immediate effect.”
The strike, which entered its fourth day on Thursday, has paralyzed health services in all public hospitals in the country.
The industrial action was declared on Monday by Uganda Medical Association (UMA) at their annual general assembly held at Makerere University College of Health Sciences in Mulago, Kampala.
However Aceng noted that the failure to improve doctors’ welfare and enhancement of their salaries has been due to limited cash flow budget.
She hastened to add that government is waiting for a salary review commission to come up with a harmonized pay policy which is being worked on by ministry of public service to guide on how all salaries of government servants will be enhanced.