If only issues negotiated about and promises made could be put into action, conflict would certainly be resolved. This is when I bring up the issue of endless strikes in public institutions spear headed by Makerere University, Kampala-Uganda.
Currently the non-teaching staff of all public universities are again striking in demand of an enhancement in their salary. Under their Umbrella, Public Universities’ Non-Teaching Staff Executive Forum (PUNTSEF), they reached at the resolution on Friday evening (29th July, 2016) at Makerere University main hall, led by PUNTSEF chairman Jackson Betihamah.
“We Makerere university non-teaching staff have resolved to lay down our tools with effect from 3rd August until government enhances our salaries. All staff have been advised not to report on duty until further notice. Whoever will be found working will be disciplined,” Said Bruce Twesigye, the Forum’s General Secretary.
There are six public universities in Uganda such as; Busitema University, Gulu University, Kyambogo University, Makerere University, Mbarara University of Science and Technology and Muni University, who have over 4000 employees as non-teaching staff.
Having paid a visit at Makerere University yesterday afternoon, all buildings were closed. Literally, everything under the non-teaching staff’s control was off. When I tried visiting the Makerere University website for results, neither could I access it, since the academic registrar who controls it is part of the non-teaching staff.
With all public universities originally scheduled to re-open for the new semester on 8th August, this has however been postponed to 13th August, when both the fresh and continuing students are to report for the new academic year due to unresolved issues between government and the the non-teaching staff.
Last year on 31st July, the public universities’ non-teaching staff made a similar decision to strike for the same cause but up to date, they claim that government has always paid a deaf ear to their demands. In the same year, president Museveni promised a pay rise for all academic staff in public universities with a professor earning Ugshs 15M, a pledge that has been fulfilled with government allocating Ugshs 50bn in the 2015/2016 national budget.
However, the non-teaching staff finds this unfair since they only demand UgShs39bn for this financial year 2015/2016 compared to Ugshs50bn that was allocated to the academic staff.
The non teaching staff revealed that they have had enough meetings with all relevant stake holders including the minister of education, the prime minister, the public service parliamentary committee among others but they have all turned a deaf ear, and only assuring them how government does not have enough money to meet their demands.