UNATU Teachers call off strike after Museveni dialogue (1)
Following a Monday dialogue with President Museveni, the Uganda National Teachers' Union (UNATU) has called off its sit-down strike. FILE PHOTO

Taking note of the dialogue between President Museveni and UNATU leadership on Monday, the union has announced the suspension of its sit-down strike.

The leadership of the Uganda National Teachers’ Union (UNATU) has announced the suspension of their sit-down strike following a dialogue with President Yoweri Museveni on Monday.

“We realized that for the interest of learners and the interest of our members, discussions need to continue. Therefore we decided to take the direction of suspending the industrial action as the discussions continue. Starting tomorrow (Tuesday), we are going back to school,” UNATU General Secretary, Filbert Baguma said on Monday.

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 fellow 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 on 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 the 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 through UNATU met with President Museveni and the Education Minister, Janet Museveni at Kololo independence grounds over the same issue.

According to Filbert Baguma the UNATU General Secretary, following a meeting with the president, they resolved to call off the strike but continue dialoguing with government on how they can be given an enhancement.

“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,” Baguma revealed.