KAMPALA – The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga on Tuesday, August 13, directed the Minister of State for Higher Education, John Chrysestom Muyingo to update Parliament today on the alleged strike of staff in public universities.
The Speaker’s directive followed a matter raised by the Bulamogi County MP, Kenneth Lubogo who raised a matter of national importance in which he demanded to know what plans the government has to address the issues raised by the teachers in public universities saying that even though students reported ten days ago they have not been studying due to the strike.
“The strike is increasing the cost of maintaining students who aren’t learning. Some of these children are from poor families because they have to spend money to continue surviving. It also has an effect on the academic ranking of universities in this country as I speak, Makerere University which used to be the fifth on the African continent has dropped from fifth to about 16th,” Hon Lubogo noted.
Hon Muyingo told Parliament that the Ministry was aware of the impending strike and says that there is an ongoing meeting in state house Entebbe to address the matter and has promised to address the country on the outcomes of the meeting.
The Minister said, “It is true staff of academic and non-academic public universities have threatened to put down their tools as I talk right now, there is an important meeting taking place in State House trying to devise ways and means of addressing this issue and as soon as the meeting is done, the country will be informed.”
Last week, academic and non-teaching staff from all public universities in the country resolved to lay down their tools indefinitely until government releases all due and outstanding funds for their salary enhancement amounting to Shs150Bn.
Their decision came a few hours after the Minister of Public Service, Wilson Muruli Mukasa, informed the country of government’s offer of Shs15Bn for salary enhancement for both categories of staff, starting in the second quarter (October to December) of the current financial year.
Despite Government’s pronouncement, Dr Grace Lubaale, Chairperson Forum for Academic Staff in Public Universities (FASPU), maintained that their planned strike would proceed as earlier planned until government releases all the money the staff are demanding in arrears and due payments.
It should be recalled that in 2015, President Yoweri Museveni directed the enhancement of salaries of staff in public universities with each professor earning at least Shs15M monthly up from the Shs2M they were earning at the time.
The Ministry of Finance moved swiftly to implement the directive but decided to phase the enhanced of the salaries over a period of five years ending in the financial year 2019/2020.
However, the staff were shocked to realize that in the 2019/2020 national budget, the salary enhancement wasn’t reflected in the salary structure issued by the Ministry of Public Service, and yet this financial year was the last for the enhancement to be implemented.
After complaints, Catherine Bitarakwate Musingwiire Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Public Service issued a circular to vice-chancellors of public universities announcing that Shs15Bn had been earmarked to pay the striking staff as part of the Shs150Bn meant for enhancing the salaries for all public officers, despite the directive requiring at least Shs138Bn for the enhancement of the salary of staff in all public universities with Shs 58.5Bn meant for arrears while Shs78.5Bn is for enhancement for the 2018/2019 financial year.