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Museveni, teachers strike deal to suspend strike

Museveni talks to teachers in Kampala on Sunday. PHOTO PPU

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Uganda National Teachers Union- UNATU has agreed with President, Yoweri Museveni to suspend the planned teacher’s strike for one term as government mobilizes funds for their salary enhancement.

UNATU had called for industrial action starting Monday 27th, 2019 to compel government to enhance teacher’s salaries to ensure that the least paid teacher earns a monthly wage of 900,000 Shillings.

This came after government back-tracked on its earlier agreement of enhancing the teacher’s salaries in a phased manner and only provided 49 billion Shillings in the 2019/2020 financial year budget out of the total 251 billion Shillings required  to enhance the teacher’s pay.

On Sunday afternoon, president Museveni held a meeting with the UNATU members led by their National Chairman, Zadock Tumuhimbise and Secretary General, Filbert Baguma.

The meeting agreed that teachers suspend their planned strike for one term as government continues mobilizing the required funds.

The meeting was also attended by the First Lady and Education Minister Janet Kataha Museveni, Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda and State Minister for Planning,  David Bahati.

They also agreed to have a follow up meeting at the end of July for government to make communication on the availability of money.

The UNATU Secretary General Baguma told President Museveni that education and issues concerning teachers needed to be included among priority areas since education is the backbone of development.

He argued that teachers make all professions and therefore quality education begins with a well-trained, motivated and supported teacher,.

Baguma noted that the cost of living had gone up, saying teachers are struggling to cope with the Shillings 469,350 they earn.

President Museveni insisted that there must be priorities within priorities, adding that without security, good infrastructure and electricity, there is no education to talk about.

The Works and Transport sector tops the next financial year budget with Shillings 6.4 trillion followed by the Security Sector with Shillings 3.6 trillion and the Education with Shillings 3.2 trillion.

The Energy and Mineral Development Sector has been allocated 2.9 trillion.

Museveni agreed with the teachers that there is lack of equality when it comes to salaries with some of the public servants getting much more than others.  He cited Parliament where legislators fix their own salaries.

Describing this as a structural problem, he promised to push for a ‘One Salary Board’ to fix government salaries. He cited a need for the Constitution to be amended to have the Board in place.

The President appealed to the teachers to suspend their strike for one term to allow government more time find some more money and make a communication at the end of the first term.

Baguma then noted that they are not opposed to the suspension of their strike for a term as long as government will find the money and pay them  arrears starting with July 2019.

Museveni said that they are going to look into the system and that whatever money is found is to be added on the 49 billion Shillings for teacher’s salaries.

With the agreement to suspend the strike, teachers are now expected to attend to pupils starting Monday as the school second term opens.

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