The Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among has directed Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja to urgently present to the House a comprehensive statement on interventions being planned by government regarding grievances by Arts teachers.
“There has a concern on the plight of teachers and learners in public institutions following industrial action by teachers, such industrial actions have become regular in our education sector,” Among said during her communication to Parliament on Tuesday afternoon.
She urged the government to carefully study the grievances of teachers and devise sustainable solutions to the issue.
Cecilia Ogwal, the Dokolo Woman MP said that there is a need to address the issue of equality and equity in the law of Equal Opportunities.
“I am concerned about the situation where the Head Teacher is an Arts teacher, and we have some teachers who are scientists…then you find a situation where the science teacher is getting double the salary of the Head Teacher,” said Ogwal.
She said that this creates a disparity in learning institutions and a need for parliament to step in and guide the government on the matter.
In response, Among said that anything related to the recent industrial action by teachers would be discussed when the Prime Minister presents a report.
“Not all of us are science people, but we are here, so let’s wait for the report and then debate and then we come up with resolutions and actions to be taken, we are all concerned about the teachers and we must take action on this,” the Speaker added.
Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, the Kira Municipality MP said that if Speaker Among had not directed for a report from the government, he would have demanded for equal pay for both science and arts teachers.
John Baptist Nambeshe, the Chief Opposition Whip said that the selective salary enhancement is to cause more grievances in the country and appealed that the Prime Minister is given a timeline within which to report to the House on the matter.
He also noted that in the absence of the Salaries Review Board, the Executive should desist from pronouncing selective salary increments that against the rights of other public servants.
On Monday, teachers under the Uganda National Teachers’ Union (UNATU) called off their strike that started on June 15th in a quest for salary enhancement, with equity and harmonization across the board.
The strike resulted from the government’s decision to increase the pay for science teachers nearly by 300 percent in disregard of their colleagues in arts and humanities.
The increment saw the government increase the pay for graduate and grade V science teachers to sh4 million and sh 3 million up from sh 1.1 million and sh796,000 respectively.
During negotiations, teachers proposed that the government should either provide an additional budget to increase the salary of art teachers or, for the sake of justice, split the available wage bill of sh 95 billion among all teachers.
The wage bill was set aside to enhance the salaries of science teachers only and if equally shared among the 169,000 teachers on the payroll, each would get a pay raise of sh 46,800.
Following a meeting between UNATU leaders and President Yoweri Museveni at Kololo Independence Grounds on Monday, the teachers resolved to call off their strike. During the meeting, President Museveni told teachers that the government has already provided a position on their demands and it will not reverse it.
“We have provided a position as government and pledged to competitively remunerate workers guided by a science-led strategy, this does not mean we have forgotten others, but we are choosing to prioritize the few and others can come later,” the President said. “We must finish one problem at a time.”
Museveni disagreed with the idea of sharing the available funds saying that the argument doesn’t hold any sense.
“The Arts teachers insist that we should use the available resources to improve salaries across the board, whilst this is possible, it does not solve the salary issue. It is okumemerera (sprinkling), where everyone will get a little and then next year everyone strikes,” Museveni said.