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Government Orders Arts Teachers Back to Class or Risk Being Sacked

By Melanie Aanyu,

The government has ordered Arts teachers striking over pay,back to class latest tomorrow, or risk being sacked for absconding from duty and engaging in an “illegal” industrial action.

In a swift rejoinder, the leadership and members of Uganda National Teachers’ Union (Unatu) dismissed the threat, and asked the government to address the pay disparity between Science and Arts teachers and stop bullying teachers exercising their labour rights.

The Ministry of Public Service Permanent Secretary Catherine Bitarakwate in a June 22 letter to Mr Filbert Baguma, the Unatu general secretary, noted that the aggrieved teachers should either return to class, resign or seek legal redress.

Mr Baguma yesterday said that teachers would continue with the strike action, despite the government directing them to resume tomorrow and threatening to replace them.

A number of public schools have momentarily closed after the strike by Arts teachers, the majority teaching workforce in Uganda, abandoned teaching for now a week.

In yesterday’s response, Unatu general secretary Baguma said it was unacceptable for the government to ignore its commitments to raise teachers’ salaries under the 2019 Collective Bargaining Agreement, and move on to pay the 13,000 science teachers, who lacked a separate such deal, much higher than Arts counterparts with similar or higher qualifications and experiences.