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Uganda: education union urges public authorities to keep promise of improved working and living conditions

Confronted with the Government’s failure to sign a collective bargaining agreement and increase teachers' salary in the upcoming national budget, the Uganda National Teachers’ Union has given notice of industrial action beginning on 20 May.

“The Uganda National Teachers’ Union (UNATU) is willing to continue constructive engagements with the Government if all Government representatives on the Public Service Negotiating and Consultative Council sign the Collective Bargaining Agreement and the Government commits itself to include salary augmentation for ALL teachers in the national budget for the 2019/20 financial year as agreed,” stressed UNATU General Secretary Baguma Filbert Bates on 19 February.

“As a trade union,” he stressed, “we have exhausted all possibilities of negotiation since the beginning of 2018, but some Government’s officials have deliberately frustrated the process. As a result, UNATU gives a notice of 90 days to the responsible centres to honour what was negotiated and agreed upon between some governmental representatives and public service unions’ representatives, or we go for industrial action from 20 May 2019.”

He recalled that during the 2nd Public Service Negotiating and Consultative Council meeting held on 22 June 2018, public service unions’ and government representatives agreed on figures to improve salaries for the financial years 2018/19 and 2019/20.

All public service unions’ representatives and some Government representatives then signed the collective bargaining agreement. The Government representatives present that day assured UNATU that their absent counterparts were on other assignments for the Government, but committed and willing to sign the collective bargaining agreement.

“However, to our dismay, as of 19 February 2019, the governmental representatives on the Public Service Negotiating and Consultative Council who hadn’t done so, neither have signed the collective bargaining agreement yet, nor given reasons for not signing it, an act which seriously disrupts the negotiation process,” Bates insisted.

He went on to say that “this breach of trust shows that some governmental officials not only lack respect for Government’s institutions, but also genuine concern for public service provision, the status of education, the teachers, the learners, the parents, and Ugandans at large.”

Education International (EI) firmly supports Ugandan colleagues, and demands that the country’s public authorities keep their promises and engage in social dialogue and collective bargaining in good faith. It will continue to monitor the situation of teachers’ rights and conditions in Uganda.