Janet writes to public varsities as strike looms

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Education minister Janet Museveni has moved swiftly to calm tempers and threats of strikes from the country’s public universities by penning assurances by the government to meet its pledge to increase the salaries of lecturers.

The minister in a letter dated March 3 to chairpersons of the public universities, restates government’s commitment to enhancing and improving the pay of staff to the level where a professor would earn Shs15m per month.

The letter comes hot on the heels of threats from the staff of public universities of Kyambogo, Makerere, Busitema, Mbarara, Muni and Gulu who are threatening to down their tools after learning that their promised Shs50b salary enhancement has not been included in the 2017/2018 Budget estimates.

President Museveni in August 2014 met the lecturers at State House Entebbe and committed to have a budgetary allocation for salaries increased from the previous Shs180b to Shs300b with effect from the Financial Year 2015/2016.

The Education ministry then agreed with the lecturers to remit Shs50b each financial year until the limit is achieved, but the lecturers are bitter that the pledge for this forthcoming financial year has not yet been included as was agreed.

But Ms Museveni has reassured the staff that since the government has met its bargain for the last two years, there’s no doubt that it will not continue to do so until the process is completed in the medium term by 2020.

“Cabinet has considered the proposals and the process is still ongoing and not everything has been conclusively decided until Parliament has considered and approved the budget. So I allay the fears of staff and call upon everybody to remain calm and continue with normal operations,” Ms Museveni stated in her letter.

She also invited all the chairpersons of the university councils, vice chancellors, and accounting officers of the universities at the weekend and passed on the communication to them, and urged them to calm their staff not to strike.

Mr Charles Barugahare, the Makerere University Secretary, said: “We were briefed on the issue of salary enhancement and we have also passed on the communication to our staff.”
The interim spokesperson of the chairpersons of Public Universities Academic Staff Forum, Mr Deus Kamunyu, said they received the letter from the First Lady, but they were yet to scrutinize the matter.

He insisted they will push to have their money included in the Financial Year 2017/2017 Budget.

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