Warning: Trying to access array offset on value of type bool in /usr/www/users/urnnet/a/story.php on line 43 Gov’t Switches Back to Dialogue as Teachers Remain Steadfast on Strike :: Uganda Radionetwork
Whereas the government has invited UNATU for a meeting, by the time of publication, local government authorities were in the field collecting information for a report on absentee teachers so the information gathered can be used to punish teachers who have refused to return to classrooms.
As the national teachers' strike enters day 10, learning
in most schools across the country has come to a standstill with teachers not
giving in to threats from the government.
UNATU announced an indefinite strike under the slogan "All Teachers Matter" in their quest for pay equity and
harmonization among teachers of various subjects, and school administrators at
all levels of education.
Last week the government threatened to fire all
teachers who would not report for duty. A circular to Town Clerks and Chief
Administrative Officers was issued ordering them to instruct Parish Chiefs and
school inspectors to carry out roll calls and compile lists of teachers who are not in schools.
While the move was engineered to send teachers back to
classrooms, it instead led to the closure of schools as teachers and learners
in different districts opted to stay away from schools as of Monday this week until the teachers' salary is harmonized.
Now, the government has since gone back to the drawing
board, inviting UNATU leadership for meetings. URN has learnt that both the Vice
President Jessica Alupo and the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Public
Service have called them for two separate meetings scheduled to take place on
June 29 and July 1, 2022 respectively to discuss ways of ending the strike.
In a letter addressed to the union, the Permanent Secretary
for the Ministry of Public Service, Catherine Bitarakwate Musingwiire who had
previously referred to the ongoing strike as illegal, seemed to be
acknowledging its legality thus calling for a meeting with UNATU
“This is therefore to invite you and four of your
Executive Members for a meeting with the Ministry of Public Service on Friday,
1 July 2022 at 2:00 pm in the ministry boardroom. The meeting will focus on
issues raised for industrial action,” Bitarakwate’s letter reads in part.
Filbert Baguma, UNATU secretary-general, notes that
dialogue and negotiations should have been used in the first place instead of
threats as suggested during a meeting on June 15 chaired by President Yoweri
At the meeting that UNATU leaders and different
government ministries attended, President Museveni appealed to teachers to
return to class. In the meeting, the president asked the Ministries of Finance,
public service, and Education to meet with the teachers and solve the salary
disparities as raised by UNATU.
According to Baguma, instead of threatening teachers, it
would have been better for authorities at the public service ministry to address the issues
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Inspection for absent teachers still going on
Whereas the government has invited UNATU for a meeting,
by the time of publication, local government authorities were in the field
compiling names of absentee teachers. The information gathered will be used to take action against teachers who have refused to
return to classroom.
Already, there are reports from some districts like
Mukono, Gulu, and Mbarara indicating that a section of teachers has rushed back
to schools following the threats.
Baguma is puzzled why the government which is calling
for dialogue is still intimidating teachers with the inspections. He further
scoffs at the claim of deleting striking teachers off the payroll noting that
intimidating workers on industrial action with threats of firing them is
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The Employees Act section 76 notes that the participation
or intended participation of an employee in a strike or other form of
industrial action shall not constitute a fair reason for dismissal or for the
imposition of a disciplinary penalty where the strike or other industrial
action is lawful.
During a media interview, Bitarakwate said that although
the government might not go to the extreme to delete teachers off the payroll,
the circular issued on recording those who are absent has not been reviewed or
The permanent secretary further added that the law
provides for reprimanding workers who abscond from duty. She insisted that
teachers who will not be found at school will be served with a letter
requesting them to explain why they are not on duty.
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According to her, the ongoing industrial action is no
longer necessary. She further explains that the primary objective of the
industrial action is to advance a claim that teachers have already made.
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While, Bitarakwate insists on the need for daily
inspection, implementing local governments have no resources to carry out the
activity as required. Moses Olok, the chairperson of the District Inspectors of
School Association who also doubles as Kayunga inspector of schools, cites lack
of human and financial resources.
“For instance, I have 167 government schools in Kayunga.
However, we don’t have enough manpower to cover all these schools,” Olok told
Uganda Radio Network.
Many other local governments have also reported that they
might not be able to produce the said reports on time as required due to a lack
Joyce Nalubega, Entebbe municipal education officer, said
that they don’t have any funds to carry out the inspection. “Entebbe municipal
council does not have any resources since the financial is ending and the
system is getting off but we have told officers to use their own money and ask
for refunds later. However, this cannot go far with the high fuel rates,” she
Peter Nsiimire, the Ibanda District Schools Inspector,
also raised a similar issue but hastened to add they are working around the
clock to devise means of handling the matter at hand.
In addition to lacking finances, Olok questions the
quality of the reports which will be provided since the government resorted to
using Parish and Sub Counties Chiefs to increase manpower.
“In schools, there are teachers who are present but not
teaching. As inspectors, we can tell whether teaching and learning are going on
or not. A teacher might be present in class but when he is not teaching. This
might not be assessed by the deployed town clerks and parish chiefs,” he adds.