Education International has firmly condemned the intimidation of teachers currently taking industrial action led by the Uganda National Teachers Union (UNATU), an organisation affiliated to Education International.
In a letter addressed to Prime Minister of the Republic of Uganda and Leader of Government Business in Parliament, Robinah Nabbanja, Education International’s General Secretary David Edwards criticised the order given by the Permanent Secretary of the Public Service to all Government teachers to report to work by Friday 24 June, and called upon Chief Administrative Officers and Town Clerks to submit names of teachers on industrial action by 30th June for deletion from the payroll.
Collective Bargaining Agreement is valid and must be implemented
Education International deplores this latest intimidation of teachers who are demanding their salary enhancement based on a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) which is valid. The industrial action follows due process that was followed by UNATU which led to the suspension of the industrial action in 2019 to allow Government to comply with the provisions of the CBA, an agreement which also emphasised the issue of non-discrimination.
On May 23, UNATU issued a notification to government expressing intention to resume their industrial action if government insisted on implementing “discriminatory salary enhancements” instead of honouring commitments made in the 2018 CBA.
UNATU’s Secretary General, Filbert Baguma, recalled that, during the signing of the CBA, it was also agreed that negotiations for 2020/2021 and 2022/2023 aimed at removing disparities in scales would proceed as agreed.
He added: “Every financial year, teachers must remind government about the commitments earlier made. Do teachers really matter to this nation? Are the commitments made by government mere boardroom gimmicks meant to silence teachers and foil any plans for industrial action?”
Respect International Labour Organization’s Convention 98
Edwards further insisted that the International Labour Organization’s Convention 98, ratified by Uganda, stipulates that workers, including teachers, have the right to decent salaries, working conditions and terms of employment, and collective bargaining helps regulate relations between employers and workers.
Education International considers the attempt to undermine UNATU members’ right to benefit from the CBA before it expires in 2023 to be “a betrayal of the children of Uganda who need well-motivated and supported teachers,” Edwards stressed.
EI calls on the Government of Uganda to take all necessary measures to ensure that UNATU can fully exercise its trade union rights, and requests that the threats against the teachers be withdrawn immediately and unconditionally.
Need for harmonious industrial relations and a quality education
“We urge your government to ensure harmonious industrial relations and quality education for every Ugandan child by honouring the CBA as requested by UNATU,” Edwards concluded.