Academic staff from public varsities threaten industrial action over salary arrears

Academic staff from public universities have threatened to lay down their tools if government does not settle Shs29 billion in salary arrears in two weeks

PARLIAMENT | Academic staff from public universities have petitioned the parliamentary Education Committee over their unpaid salary arrears amounting to Shs29 billion and threatened to lay down tools if government doesn’t honour its obligation.

Under their umbrella bodies, Forum for Academic Staff of Public Universities in Uganda (FASPU) and Public Universities Non-Teaching Staff Executive Forum (PUNTSEF), the team informed the committee that whereas government promised to increase their salaries by Shs58 billion, only Shs29 billion was reimbursed to them.

Dr Grace Lubaale, chairperson of FASPU, issued an ultimatum to government to clear the remaining half of the arrears in two weeks or they will lay down their tools.

Sendo Cleaners

While appearing before the committee, Lubaale asked Parliament to prevail over the Executive and ensure that all the pending financial obligations are catered for in the 2019/2020 to ensure that a university professor earns the minimum Shs15 million salary mark, as was promised by President Museveni.

In the 2018/2019 Ministerial Policy Statement for the Ministry of Education, the committee noted that while government increased salary for University lectures from last financial year, the Salary structure at Public Universities were yet to be fully harmonized.

The report highlighted that this has forced some Universities to continue to rely on part time lecturers whom they pay at their own rates, yet the public varsities’ total wage enhancement for both teaching and non-teaching staff is Shs78.5 billion in 2017/2018.

However, only Shs19 billion was allocated, leaving a shortfall of Shs59.5 billion. In 2018/2019, Shs33 billion was allocated leaving a shortfall Shs45.5 billion, bringing the total short fall to Shs105 billion in public universities’ salaries.

In their earlier report, the committee warned that, if this issue isn’t adequately handled this could bring about unrest at the Universities and the Committee went on to recommend the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Finance to harmonise the salary structure in all public Universities and halt the acquisition of new Universities until funds are got for full payment of the University staff salaries, calls to the Ministry of Finance to provide for the Shsl05Bn shortfall in the salaries of public Universities to avert unrest at the Universities.

Joseph Sewungu (Kalungu West) urged the team to stick together in their pursuit arguing: “You must gain confidence in yourselves, you aren’t demanding for something you haven’t worked for. You are demanding for services you are providing. You must take a position, when you say you are laying down your tools, you must lay them down at once.”

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