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Public universities staff to push on with industrial action

Deus Kamunyu Muhwezi, the FASPU Chairperson is talking tough

Kampala, Uganda |  THE INDEPENDENT | The Forum for Academic Staff in Public Universities of Uganda (FASPU) has vowed not to bow down to threats from their superiors as they fight for what they say is their right to a salary enhancement. 

Deus Kamunyu Muhwezi, the FASPU Chairperson says they cannot sit back and watch the discrimination by the authorities in the implementation of the presidential directive that he made six years back about enhancing the salaries of university staff.

In 2014, Museveni directed the enhancement of the salaries of public University Staff following several negotiations.   The was aimed at increasing the salary of teaching staff at the level of a professor to Shillings 15 million and lowest teaching staff Shillings Seven million.  However, some staff accuse their superiors of denying them the enhancement despite various reminders.  

Kamunyu explained that the affected staff decided to lay down their tools in June 2020 following their meeting in May 2020. He, however, says they decided to call off the industrial action because of the COVID- 19 pandemic that led to a nationwide lockdown and its effects on the economy. 

Kamunyu explains that during their recent meeting held at Kyambogo University they resolved to resume their strike starting February 06th 2021 after realizing that the government is failing to fulfil its promise of enhancing their salaries. The over 2500 staff say they will not bow down to intimidation from their chancellors and the selective way, the matter is being handled. 

According to Kamunyu, different university chancellors have started threatening the staff with the intentions of making them give up on the industrial action.  “’Our patience has been tested by authorities for a long time and now they have no option but to fight for our rights,” Kamunyu said.

His statement is in response to a January 22nd, 2021 letter by Makerere University Vice-chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe to Dr. Kamunyu, saying FAPSU is an illegal body that is not recognized by the Universities and Tertiary Institutions Act 2003(as amended) as a staff association.

“As a member of staff of Makerere University, you are strongly advised to desist from any further dealings under the umbrella of FASPU, aimed at destabilizing activities of Makerere University “Nawangwe’s letter reads. The letter is also copied to the General Secretary Makerere University Academic Staff Association-MUASA, Robert Kakuru, who is also a staff of Makerere University. 

However, Kamunyu asks university chancellors not to be an obstacle to their push since they are also beneficiaries of the salary enhancement.   

He faults Nawangwe for writing to him and threatening other staff instead of advocating for their rights.

The industrial action by the public university Academic Staff comes at a time when educational institutions are pushing for reopening because of the prolonged COVID-19 shutdown. 

However, the government has directed the universities to continue with the online study programs as it monitors to trends of the COVID-19 spread.

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