Museveni urges Arts teachers to calm down strike (1)
As a result of the meeting, the teachers through their umbrella UNATU decided to call off the strike and return to work while they continue to discuss salary increases with government.

As part of his appeal to Arts teachers, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has stated that Government is aware of their stance and will look into revising it at a later date.

President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni Tibuhaburwa has urged Arts teachers to end their strike and return to work saying that government is aware of their stand and will look at revising it but at a later time.

For weeks now, Arts teachers have been on strike protesting what they termed as a discriminatory salary rise. The teachers demand government increases their salaries to match that of their counterparts, the science teachers.

As part of the revisions made in the current financial year, the government increased the salary of a degree-holder science teacher from sh1.2 million to sh4 million and a diploma-holder science teacher’s salary was also set at sh3m.

The salaries of the Arts teachers were however maintained at Sh1.08 million for a degree-holder while that of a diploma-holder arts teacher at the secondary school level was maintained at sh795,000.

With this in place, the Arts teachers last month announced a sit-down strike demanding equality in the disbursement of salaries.

In a letter dated June 22, 2022, the UNATU General Secretary, Ministry of Public Service Permanent Secretary Catherine Bitarakwate noted that the government is committed to ensuring salary enhancement for all teachers, irrespective of the disciplines, this can not be met currently because of the scarce resources.

She told teachers that whereas there is a need for an educated force in all aspects of life, more focus is needed in sciences to help better the country.

“The current enhancement for science teachers was informed by the available resources, the number of teachers involved and the impact that can be made by the scientists to the development of the country. We have no doubt that you agree that we need an educated workforce in all aspects of life but more in sciences. This in our view will attract and retain the crucial skill that is needed at this time,” Bitarakwate said.

The statement however, was not well received by the teachers who insisted they will continue striking unless their issues are handled with concern.

Several meetings between government and UNATU as well as threats of being fired from work also have proven impossible to resolve the matter.

However, on Monday, over 200 teachers representatives met with President Museveni and the Education Minister, Janet Museveni at Kololo independence grounds over the same issue.

Speaking on the matter, President Museveni maintained that while government acknowledges the issues raised by the Arts teachers, they are also aware of salary issues from other workers including the army, and police officers who are equally important to the growth and development of this country.

Museveni said government holds a strategy on how particular sectors in the country must operate and that they will not allow anyone to disrupt their process.

“We are aware of the issues and we are committed to handling them. Therefore, my advice to the teachers is that they should go back and teach. We have provided a position as government and pledged to competitively remunerate workers guided by a science-led strategy,” Museveni said.

“This does not mean we have forgotten others, but we are choosing to prioritise the few and others can come later. We must finish one problem at a time. 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,” he added.

Meanwhile, in their response, the teachers through their umbrella UNATU said following the meeting, they decided to call off the strike and return to work as they continue to discuss with the government how they can enhance their salaries.

“We had two options including continuing with the industrial action and close gates for discussion with government or suspend the strike but continue engaging government. We had three hours of weighing the advantages of each of the two options. We agreed that the teachers return to class,” Filbert Baguma the UNATU General Secretary said.