Sulaiman Ssemwogerere, the Coordinator for Uganda Professional Science Teachers Union in Luwero district, says that some headteachers have been threatening to write to Chief Administrative Officers to delete the names of the striking teachers from the payroll. According to Ssemwogerere, the headteachers claim that the science teachers’ strike is illegal and those who participate in it are considered to have absconded from duty.
The Uganda Professional
Science Teacher’s Union is struggling to sustain their industrial action, which
has entered the second week amidst promises and threats.
The union, which
brings together science teachers in secondary schools and instructors in
tertiary institutions, mobilized its members to lay down their tools at the
start of the reopening of the second term to compel the government to enhance
On day four of the strike, the cabinet
resolved to increase the salaries of the
striking teachers from Shillings 1.2 million to Shillings 4 million. However,
even with this promise, union officials said the teachers will not return to class
until the government commits to the promises in writing.
Now, reports from different parts of the country
indicate that there is growing division among UPSTU members with some already
resuming work noting that their concerns have already been handled referring to
the cabinet decision communicated last week.
A teacher in Kampala told
URN on condition of anonymity that continuing with the strike doesn’t make
sense since the government promised to give them a pay raise starting the next
financial year. The teacher explained that by striking he was losing out on the
daily allowances paid by the school.
“Whenever I teach, I get some extra money daily. I
need to put food on the table at home and even return my children to school. There
is no reason why I should keep striking (and lose the allowance) when the
government has addressed our plight in the first week and promised to increase
our salaries to four million,” the teacher noted.
Although some teachers have willingly returned to
work, several others from districts in Greater Luwero, Mukono and Masaka are
reportedly receiving threats from their supervisors and some local government
officials to return to class or face “consequences”.
Sulaiman Ssemwogerere, the Coordinator for Uganda
Professional Science Teachers Union in Luwero district, says that some headteachers have been threatening to write to Chief Administrative Officers to
delete the names of the striking teachers from the payroll. According
to Ssemwogerere, the headteachers claim that the science teachers’ strike is
illegal and those who participate in it are considered to have absconded from
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Similar reports have been recorded at Makerere
College School in Kampala where 25 science teachers on the government payroll shied
away from the strike due to threats from the administrators.
Miyingo, the headteacher of Makerere College, confirms that they actually
warned to penalize teachers who fail to show up for duty. “The routine is if you
miss a lesson, we write a letter to the disciplinary committee for action and
they all know that. They all had to turn up,” Miyingo said.
Namuliira, a teacher at St Charles Lwanga Kasasa, who is also the UPSTU
coordinator of central region, says that officials from the Ministry of Education
are clandestinely plotting against the teachers thinking that if they are
divided the strike will lose meaning.
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Amidst intimidation, some teachers have held their
ground and stayed away from the class since the term began. This has been
observed at Kololo High school, Kisenyi Lake View SS in Nakasongola district
and Nakaseke Technical Institute among other schools.
Keefa Tamale, an instructor at Nakaseke Technical
Institute accuses the government of practising salary discrimination by increasing
the salaries of other scientists and ignoring others. Tamale says that it's
painful for him to see his former students earning higher salaries yet he is still
languishing in poverty.
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Moses Byamugisha, a teacher in Lyantonde district
also says that they are not bowing down to any pressure from authorities until
their demands are fully considered.
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As the teachers continue staying away, some headteachers are struggling to find alternative ways of ensuring that learners more
so the candidates continue with their studies. Ibrahim Ssembatya, the deputy headteacher of Kololo High school, says that his school tried to talk to the striking teachers to
return in vain forcing management to improvise and hire two retired teachers of
chemistry and mathematics to engage the candidate classes.
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Vincent Elong, the national chairperson of the Uganda
Professional Science Teacher’s Union, says that no amount of the threats will
solve the apparent stalemate as the union is preparing to mobilize and reorient
the teachers on their rights as workers and the legal basis for the industrial
“If need be, we will go
for those headteachers who are trying to threaten our members. This industrial
action is a right and we followed the right procedures before declaring it. the
ministry of education and ministry of public service are much aware of our
strike and we not going to give up,” says Elong.
Elong that as they have rejected threats and empty
promises from the government. “We have been promised since 2017. This year, the
first time they made a verbal commitment that all scientists including teachers
were to get a pay rise we discovered later that Shs139 billion meant for us had
been diverted to other scientists,” Elong adds.
He noted they can
call off the strike when the government make a written commitment that their
salaries are going to be included in the budget for the financial year