Makerere University Joint Staff Associations have resolved to go on strike on 15th January 2024 in protest against the failure of the University to harmonize staff salaries.
They say their members earn lower salaries compared to other public Universities in the country.
The University’s Joint Staff Associations, which includes the Makerere University Academic Staff Association- MUASA, Makerere Administrative Staff Association-MASA, and the National Union of Education Institutions- NUEI, the Makerere branch announced their decision while addressing journalists at Bativa Hotel in Kampala on Thursday.
The media briefing was originally slated to take place at MUASA Offices within Makerere University but it was blocked by police led by Sergeant Muhwezi.
Muhwezi said he had been ordered by the administration not to allow the Press conference within the University. Makerere University Academic Staff Association- MUASA chairperson, Dr. Robert Kakuru, the University, and staff had been battling over salary harmonization for almost a decade before the Ministry of Public Service announced last year that it would be receiving 12 billion shillings to do so.
However, Kakuru said the staff was shocked to learn that the money was not reflected in the 2023/2024 budget. The Ministry of Public Service reportedly said the money was not available.
Kakuru explained that an emergency general assembly was convened and it gave an ultimatum to the government to address the matter by 18th August, 2023, to address the issue. The Association later issued a 90-day for industrial action. The 90-day ultimatum expired in November 2023.
Kakuru revealed that the staff extended the deadline for the University to harmonize salaries until January 14, 2024. Beyond this point, they vowed to resort to industrial action without entertaining further negotiations.
Justine Namudde, the Secretary General of NUEI- Makerere Branch said that it is unfair for people who have the same qualification to be receiving different salaries while others receive half of what their colleagues in other public universities get.
Namuddu said a library assistant from Makerere University earns 1.2 million shillings compared to their counterparts in Kyambogo who get more than 2 million shillings.
The deputy secretary General of MUASA, Joan Kakongoro said for a long time, the staff have tried to engage the administration and have reached several agreements, but on several occasions, the administration has not walked the talk.
Makerere University Vice Chancellor, Professor Barnabas Nawangwe on Wednesday asked Parliament’s Committee on Education and Sports to support the University in obtaining urgently needed funds for salary harmonization and pro-rata salary enhancement. Nawangwe and his team were at parliament to defend the University’s budget framework paper for the Financial Year 2024/2025.
However, Kakuru noted that although the university administration had brought the issue before parliament, they were not convinced because the same issue was brought before parliament last year but funding was never allotted.
The Associations have been advocating for the harmonization of them to the level of their sister public Universities. In 2017, the staff petitioned the University council over the same matter which propelled the University council to institute a salary harmonization committee in July to streamline the salary scales of Makerere University staff
In its report, then, the committee which was chaired by Thomas Tayebwa indicated that the University required 23 billion Shillings to have their staff salaries harmonized to a level of staff in other public universities.
The report indicated that the institution needed 17.7 billion Shillings to harmonize salaries for academic staff, 4.3 billion Shillings for administrative staff, and 669 million Shillings for support staff. The move by University staff comes as the University prepares to begin semester two of the 2023/2024 academic year, which is set to begin on January 13, 2024. It also comes just three weeks before the University’s 74th graduation, which will start on January 29, 2024.