he government has ordered the striking teachers to return to their duty stations by June 24 without fail or risk being scrapped off the payrolls. The Public Service Ministry Permanent Secretary, Catherine Bitarakwate Musingwiire communicated the decision in her letter to Uganda National Teachers Union-UNATU, which announced the industrial action.   

In her letter, Bitarakwate notes that whereas teachers just like all other government employees, have rights and freedoms to withdraw their labor, the union neither gave the government notice of the strike nor exhausted the dispute settlement mechanisms as required by the public service negotiating, consultative and dispute settlement Machinery Act.  

“The claim that the strike had been ongoing since 2019 and hence there was no need for a new notice is both fallacious and not legally tenable. Secondly, we have noticed with concern that you and your members have decided to close schools. We wish to advise you that no teacher; whether on strike or not, has a right or justification to close a public school,” the June 22, 2022 letter reads in part.   

While declaring the industrial action last week, the UNATU leadership noted that this was a continuation of their strike that was suspended in 2019 when the government promised to work on their demands agreed upon in the collective bargaining agreement that was signed in 2018.     

“…Regrettably, to date, no positive response has been received from Government. It is important to note that our Industrial Action that started in 2019 over the same issue was only suspended pending the full implementation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement,” UNATU’s letter to its members announcing the industrial action read.

The current strike resulted from the government’s decision to increase the pay for science teachers nearly by 300 percent in disregard of their colleagues in arts and humanities. The increment saw the government increase the pay for graduate and grade V science teachers to Shillings 4 million and Shillings 3 million up from Shillings 1.1 million and Shillings 796,000 respectively.   

With over 120,000 teachers dropping chalk and refusing to attend lessons, the government hurriedly called for a dialogue meeting over the weekend to find a quick solution. Both President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and his wife and Minister of Education and Sport, Janet Kataaha Museveni attended the meeting.