A lawyer has sued the Government for selectively increasing the salary of teachers.
In the petition that was filed in the Constitutional Court, Robert Rutaro Muhairwe wants the court to declare the government’s decision as illegal, unreasonable, unconstitutional, and a violation of various conventions of the International Labour Organization.
According to Rutaro, increasing the salaries of science teachers only violates the right of non-discrimination in the workplace of arts teachers as stated in Article 21 of the Constitution of Uganda. The article states that all persons are equal before and under the law in all spheres of political, economic, social, and cultural life and in every other respect and equal protection of the law’.
The petitioner further seeks a declaration that the policy or decision of the government to selectively pay science teachers an enhanced salary exclusive of the art teachers is an irrational and illegal decision as it is not supported by any law. “The policy is legally baseless,” the petition reads in part.
The petitioner also questions the government’s decision to intimidate teachers who are expressing their dissatisfaction through industrial action.
“The government’s directive through the Permanent Secretary of Public Service had the effect of intimidating the teachers and coercing them to abandon their lawful strike which is a violation of their rights guaranteed under article 29 of the Constitution,” the petition reads.
Rutaro also argues that the decision goes against the collective bargain agreement that was signed by the government and unions of public servants in 2018. In the agreement, all the parties agreed upon acceptable salary enhancement structures.
“It was also agreed that there shall be no discrimination in pay and other terms of conditions of service and where they exist, the parties shall work towards total elimination. By this selective salary enhancement policy, the government is in total breach of the said agreement,” he adds.
On June 15, the Uganda National Teachers Union-UNATU declared an indefinite strike over salary enhancement. The strike was prompted by the government’s decision to raise science teachers salary by over 300 percent, from 1.1 million to four million shillings, excluding arts teachers.
The strike has affected learning across the country in public schools. Recently, the government started engaging UNATU so as to come up with an acceptable stand for all concerned parties. However, negotiations are yet to yield positive results.