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STATEMENT BY THE VICE PRESIDENT ON THE INDUSTRIAL ACTION BY UNATU.

It has been brought to my attention through the Press Release dated 11th June
2022, issued by the General Secretary of Uganda National Teachers Union
(UNATU), that UNATU called for industrial action by all the members of the
Union with effect from 15th June 2022. The grounds of the industrial action cited
in the Press Release include discriminatory salary enhancement and failure by
Government to honour the Collective Bargaining Agreement signed in 2018.
The Government wishes to reiterate its commitment to provide salary
enhancement for all Public Officers. This is evidenced by the phased salary
enhancement that has so far been achieved over the years, whose implementation
will continue within the available resources. In the last two years, Government
has had to put aside other prioritiesto fund the fight against Covid 19. The priority
of Government during this time was addressing Covid 19. That notwithstanding,
while the private sector either laid off some workers and in some cases cut the
pay during the last two years of Covid 19, the Government dutifully paid
Teachers’ and all its other public officers’ salaries for the entire period of the
closure of schools and when most of the other public officers were either working
from home or not working at all due to Covid 19.
The current enhancement of the salaries for the scientists in the government
system including science teachers was informed by the available resources, the
numbers of scientists (out of 320,000 public officers, only 61,000 are scientists
including science teachers). The impact that can be made by the scientists to the2
development of the country benefits all of us. We have no doubt that you agree
that we need an educated work force in all aspects of life but more so, in the
sciences. Therefore, the enhancement of sciences, in our view, will attract and
retain the crucial skill that is required by the country at this material time. The
money used to pay salaries comes from taxes government collects. Scientists play
a crucial role in the development of the private sector, hence, their being singled
out to start with. This is not to mean that the government has forgotten the other
categories of public officers.
All the categories of public officers including arts teachers will be taken care of
subject to availability of resources in the coming years.
Therefore, this financial year, government among others, focused on putting
money in the Parish Development Model so as to bring into the money economy
all the 3.5 million households (about 15 million people) who are still in the
subsistence economy. I wish to persuade all of us to support government in
reaching out to all people in villages to join the money economy through PDM.
When those in subsistence economy are brought in the money economy and earn
from the sale of their products, they will end up spending on consumption, thus,
promote industrialization by the factories selling more goods. This will create
more jobs and more revenue for the government. It’s this revenue from where
government will pay better salaries to all the other categories of public servants.
So, by choosing to put money in the PDM and other programs like Emyooga,
micro finance, the funds for SMEs, the money under UDB, we are deliberately
and directly investing in the private sector from which government will collect
revenue in the long run. With increased revenue collection we will pay public
servants better including arts teachers.
This Government position has on several occasions been communicated to
teachers in the various meetings we have held. In the meeting with H. E. the
President with the leadership of UNATU on Saturday 18th June 2022 he informed
UNATU leaders of Government’s commitment to work towards enhancing the
pay for all public officers. He also took them through the history of Uganda where
the British developed an enclave economy of the 3Cs (copper, cotton and coffee)
and the 3Ts (tea, tobacco and tourism). During the Amin regime, even the enclave
economy collapsed. So when NRM came to power in 1986, NRM had to embark
on rescue, recovery, growth and transformation of the economy. We have been
able to invest in the roads e.g. one can move from Kisoro to Moroto and from
Kisoro to Koboko on tarmac. We still have more to do though. On electricity, we
now have more electricity than we are currently consuming. As a way of
increasing electricity consumption, we are attracting more investors to consume
the electricity and at the same time extending electricity to all the sub counties of
Uganda. With our zeal in prioritizing roads, electricity, scientists, PDM, and other
social economic programs, the economy of Uganda will grow much faster. We
cannot do this and at the same time increase the salaries of all public officers due
to the limited resource envelope.
The Government of Uganda does not agree with the position that has been
proposed by UNATU that the enhancement should be for all or no enhancement
at all. The decision we took to single out all scientists in government was the right
decision in view of the limited resources. Our children have suffered as a result
of being out of school for the two years of Covid 19. The teachers are doing a
disservice to the country by halting the learning and teaching in government
schools moreover the private schools where the teachers get lesser pay than those
in government schools are teaching.
Government has also noted with concern that UNATU membership has closed
the schools. My thinking is that no teacher, whether on strike or not, has the
legal right or justification to close a public school without the concurrence of the
Government of Uganda, because we work as partners.
While the Government is committed to better the salaries of public servants, the
demands for a salary enhancement, however cannot be addressed in the financial
year 2022/23 and government has been very clear to teachers on this position.
Teachers are therefore called upon to appreciate and understand the position of
Government.
With that in mind, the purpose of this communication is to inform all the teachers
and members of the public that Government has not issued any directive for
closure of any school and therefore any contrary instructions to learners should
not arise. All schools are expected to proceed with the Ministry of Education and
Sports school calendar for the 2
nd Term 2022.
I would like to request all teachers to return to their normal duties and understand
that Government values them and the service they are rendering to the country,
as guided by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Public Service in her letter
Ref. ADM/218/264/01 of 22nd June, 2022.
Let me also remind the teachers that industrial action should never be an option
because for example in this case the most affected persons are the learners and
the parents. Please let us consider the plight of learners and parents.
We have learnt that some teachers who are willing to continue with the noble
duty of educating our learners are being harassed and intimidated by a section
which is bent on continuing to disrupt teaching and learning in schools.
Government remains available to engage with all well-meaning Ugandans
including teachers with the view to making their living conditions better. Let us
work together as a team for the good of our country.
Maj (Rtd) Jessica Alupo R. E. (MP)
VICE PRESIDENT

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MEGA MILK

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