Government threatens to sack all striking teachers

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A teacher (black suit) attends to learners in a classroom. (Photo Credit – The Monitor)

Government has ordered all striking teachers in public schools to resume their duties in two days or forget about their jobs.

The teachers of art subjects under their umbrella body Uganda National Teachers’ Union (UNATU)last week announced a sit-down strike starting June 15 over a “discriminatory” salary enhancement in favor of science teachers in government schools.

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Through various engagements with UNATU, government officials including the president have tried to persuade teachers to return to class but all in vain. The teachers have continuously insisted on keeping away from classrooms until a solid resolution is reached.

However, in a new development from the public service ministry, the body that appoints and deploys civil servants countrywide, government says all teachers who will not have returned to work by Friday, June 24, 2022 will be fired.

According to Ms Catherine Bitarakwate, the ministry’s permanent secretary, teachers who are not willing to work under the prevailing terms and conditions are free to withdraw their labour as provided for under Section A-n (11) of the Public Service Standing Orders.

“All government-employed teachers are advised to resume duty at their respective workstations by June 24, 2022, without fail. Any government-employed teacher who does not comply to this call will be regarded as having abandoned duty and resigned from the public service in accordance with Section A-n(17) of the Uganda Public service standing orders 2021.”

“Those who do not agree to any of the above are advised to seek legal redress in courts of law. Government has not issued any directive for closure of any school and therefore, any contrary instructions to learners are regarded as illegal,” she added.

She added that all government schools are expected to proceed with the Ministry of Education and Sports school calendar for the second term 2022.

Government has also accused UNATU and it’s members of illegally closing down schools when they are not mandated to do so and has ordered all Chief Administrative Officers (CAO) to report any teacher absent from schools by the 30th of this month.

In light of all this with no immediate solution to the striking teachers’ demands, government has ordered the arts teachers to immediately return to classes or else they will be considered non employees by government and those not comfortable by the order can proceed to court.

“Any Government employed Teachers who does not comply to this call will be regarded as having abandoned duty and resigned from the Public Service in accordance with Section A-n (17) of the Uganda Public Service Standing Orders, 2021”- ordered Catherine Bitarakwate.

In response however, Filbert Baguma, the UNATU General Secretary said they would not bow to government’s threats.
“Today, 22nd, June 2022, we received a letter from the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Public Service. This letter had nothing but intimidation of teachers—–,” Baguma said.

He added; “I want to remind you fellow teachers that the purpose of this industrial action is to have a fair salary enhancement across the board.”

Mr Baguma urged the teachers to stay put saying Ms Bitarakwate’s letter is just one of the many ways the state has been using to intimidate teachers since their strike started.

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