Science teachers believe it’s difficult for them not to blame UNATU for interfering with the wage augmentation process for teachers who are scientists.
They are persuaded that the Uganda National Teachers Union -UNATU has been at the forefront of preventing them from benefiting from the wage increments targeted at scientists in all government employment sectors, according to their umbrella organisation, Uganda Professional Science Teachers Union -UPSTU.
President Museveni has advocated for scientists to be paid well, but the government also came up with a policy in 2010 that provided a 30 percent top-up allowance for scientists, which was implemented in 2012 and eventually integrated into a compensation structure in 2014.
Vicent Elong, the national chairperson of the Uganda Professional Science Teachers Union -UPSTU, says that as scientists in the teaching profession, they will not stand by while UNATU leaders continue to sabotage them, vowing to fight for their rights through their union, as well as encouraging fellow teachers to embrace the initiative positively as it is a watershed moment for the teaching profession as a whole.
This follows the president’s remarks at the Kololo Airstrip during the teachers’ day celebrations, in which he stated that the government intends to pay science professors 4 million Shillings per month.
Elong has now indicated that they have had enough of the sabotage and are prepared to defend their rights under their fully established union, which was created in 2021.
He explains that as teachers, they have only benefited from the 30% salary increase that was implemented in 2012 for scientists, but that when it came to the 98 billion earmarked by the government in the financial year 2017/18 to increase the salaries of all scientists, teachers did not benefit due to UNATU sabotage.
President Museveni recommended in 2018 that scientists’ salaries be increased based on their educational degrees, with a science teacher receiving over 2.2 million shillings. However, parliament rejected this on the grounds that it would be discriminatory.
Currently, a graduate science teacher receives 1.2 million UGX gross, with diploma science teachers earning 900,000 UGX gross, while an Arts graduate teacher earns 1.1 million UGX gross and an Arts teachers diploma earns 780,000 UGX gross.
UNATU General Secretary Filbert Baguma says the union is not opposed to the move, but that the government should be practical and give a specific strategy that will benefit teachers rather than promising them verbally.
UNATU, according to Baguma, was a signatory to the 2018 collective bargaining agreement, which provided for wage increases for all teachers, including other civil officials, and it is this agreement that UNATU wants the government to present to the teachers, not words.
He sees that the president is now aligning with one group against the other, which he believes should be discouraged.
Baguma claims that the precise plan that will be presented should show how the government intends to raise salaries for all teachers, even if it is done in stages.
The government proposed a five-year plan in 2018 to cover the stepwise rise in salary for all scientists and other state officials, which was supposed to be completed by 2023 but has yet to be implemented due to the Covid-19 problems.