Senior officials of Uganda National Teacher’s Union- UNATU on Monday walked out on Ministry of Education officials following a disagreement over the 20 percent teacher’s pay rise.
On Monday morning, Uganda’s Education minister Jessica Alupo and senior education officials convened a meeting at statistics house with 160 UNATU officials to find ways of ending the ongoing countrywide teacher’s strike over a pay rise.
The meeting seemed to going on well until Alupo told the UNATU officials that the ministry lacks funds to give the teachers a pay rise. Amidst heckling from the teachers, and head teachers, the ministry officials tried in vain to offer satisfactory explanation.
The UNATU officials who looked prepared with data and figures put up a spirited fight and over powered the education, finance and public service ministry officials.
On realizing, government officials were not ready to listen to their demands; the UNATU team stormed out of the meeting and rejected the lunch prepared for them.
Anti riot police took positions in strategic locations, ready to unleash teargas on the teachers. The teachers calmly walked out of statistics house and board the two police buses that had transported them to the venue of the meeting.
Margaret Rwabushaija, the National UNATU Chairperson said they were forced to walk out of the meeting after Alupo ordered them to open schools as negotiations continue.
Rwabushaija said despite the fact that they agreed to hold further negotiations and consultations; the union decided that they will only do that when schools are still closed.
James Tweheyo, the UNATU Secretary General says it would have been a very big mistake for them to agree to resume work before government fulfills a single agreement they had reached with teachers. He challenged the members to remain firm as they battle government. Tweheyo also asked government to lay on table the commitment they are making before talking about opening schools.
He also warned the members of the union against succumbing to pressure and intimidation from government officials. After the walkout, the education officials together with their counterparts from other ministries were locked up in a crisis meeting to chat a way forward.
Repeated calls to both the education minister, Jessica Alupo and her junior state minister for primary education went unanswered.