KAMPALA: The Uganda National Teacher’s Union (UNATU) has scoffed at threats by the Ministry of Public Service to sack them from their jobs over their industrial action, and said this will not deter them from continuing to withdraw their labour over discriminative salary enhancement.
In a June 22 response to the letter by the Public Service ministry’s permanent secretary, Catherine Bitarakwate Musingwiire, in which she declared their industrial action illegal, UNATU General Secretary Filbert Baguma urged the striking teachers to remain claim and described the government’s efforts to resort to intimidation as unfortunate and now new.
“The intimidation we are currently facing is not new and should be expected. It is unfortunate that instead of negotiations, Government has resorted to intimidation and falsehoods. As you are all already aware, yesterday, June 21, 2022, unknown elements forged 2 messages purportedly sent by the General Secretary calling off the Industrial Action,” Baguma wrote to fellow teachers on Wednesday afternoon.
Earlier on Wednesday, Bitarakwate wrote to UNATU, saying the ongoing industrial action by teachers of arts subjects in government schools is illegal and gave them up to Friday, June 24, 2022 to resume work or lose their jobs.
In a strongly letter addressed to UNATU and copied to district leaders and the Education ministry, the Ministry of Public Service said the sit-down strike was illegal and not in accordance with the existing government plans to enhance workers’ salaries gradually.
“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 current industrial action by UNATU members is illegal and in breach of the principles and spirit of the law and particularly sections 7(2) a, and b and 8(1) and (3) of the Public Service Negotiating, Consultative and Disputes Settlement Machinery Act 2008 and the recognition agreement signed under this act because UNATU has neither given a notice to strike nor had the dispute settlement machinery exhausted,” she added
But Baguma said the claim that the Industrial Action is not legal is null and void.
“The Permanent Secretary deliberately twisted certain sections of the Law to try and justify their actions of intimidation,” he said.
“Teachers are reminded that the purpose of the Industrial Action is to ensure there is fair salary enhancement across board. There has been no satisfactory feedback from Government and therefore the only option is to continue with Industrial Action. We cannot give up the struggle without any positive outcome,” he added.
He said that the industrial action is within the provisions of the law.
“Our legal teams are already at work. STAY FIRM and remain at HOME. Industrial Action continues. If we withstand the pressure, we shall get to where we want to go. DO NOT GIVE UP!”