Legislators have called on the government to treat teachers equally following the increment in salaries for science teachers in public schools.
The increment, which commences in the new Financial Year 2022/2023, locks out arts teachers, a development that has caused acrimony among different stakeholders, with the Uganda National Teachers’ Union (UNATU) announcing a sit-down strike for the affected teachers, which started last Wednesday.
UNATU also cited the failure by the government to honour a collective bargaining agreement arrived at in 2018 to enhance salaries.
At a press conference held on Thursday at Parliament, MPs expressed discontent with the decision taken by the government to give teachers a two-day ultimatum within which to cease their industrial action.
According to Buhweju County MP, Hon. Francis Mwijukye, the government should stop issuing threats against UNATU through the Ministry of Public Service.
“The Ministry of Public Service should be protecting teachers against threats. The document released by them is unfair, illegitimate, and is against the Employment Act,” Mwijukye said.
He added, “There should not be any form of division amongst people of the same profession in any way. They should be treated the same because one subject relies on the other too. “
Bugiri Municipality MP, Hon. Asuman Basalirwa, described the ongoing situation as a crisis that needs to be addressed.
“The teachers are only demanding their constitutional rights; they are government employees governed by the labour laws and protected by them,” he said.
He recommended that a supplementary budget be put in place for the equitable rights of both the science and arts teachers.
Basalirwa also said that the government should withdraw the ‘threatening document’ and rather engage and negotiate with the teachers.
Joseph Ssewungu (DP, Kalungu County West) said that the decision to pay science teachers in exclusion of art teachers is discriminatory according to Article 102b of the Constitution.
“All the teachers have teaching certificates and should not be discriminated against. The job description is the same and a teacher cannot be equated to a doctor,” he said.
Ssewungu advised the Ministry of Public Service to be technocrats who give ideas and advise Parliament to make better decisions for Ugandans.
Catherine Bitarakwate, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Public Service, said that any teacher who would not resume work by Friday, June 24 June 2022 “would be fired”.