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Stats: 17,807 members, 72,135 Topics, 15,720 Comments. Date: Aug 18 2019, 10:38 pm

Mathew Oluwaseun
University of Ilorin (Unilorin)
Mechanical Engineering
500Level, Nigeria.
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Academic and non-teaching staff from all public universities in the country on Thursday resolved to lay down their tools indefinitely until government releases all due and outstanding funds for their salary enhancement.

The announcement came a few hours after the Minister of Public Service, Mr Wilson Muruli Mukasa, had revealed the government's offer of Shs15b for salary enhancement for both categories of staff, starting in the second quarter (October to December) of the current financial year.

The university new academic year 2019/2020 starts tomorrow.

Dr Grace Lubaale, the chairperson of the Forum for Academic Staff in Public Universities (FASPU), said their strike will proceed as earlier planned until government releases all the Shs150b they are demanding in arrears and due payments.

"This is the last year for the implementation of the presidential directive which would make a professor, who is currently earning Shs9.6m, earn up to Shs15m. We shall not report for duty until this money is remitted to our accounts," Dr Lubaale told journalists at Makerere University yesterday.

The press conference was attended by representatives of both academic staff and non-teaching staff of all public universities.

However, Dr Lubaale added that the striking staff are open to further discussions with government.

"We have written to the Ministry of Education over four letters and they have promised to meet us soon over our money. We are still waiting for that meeting with the Minister of Education for negotiations," he said.

Mr Jackson Betihamah, the chairperson of Public Universities Non-teaching Staff Forum (PUNTSF), dismissed the Shs15b offer as laughable.

"Shs15b is very little money to be shared among all the 10 public universities across the country. This is unacceptable," Mr Betihamah said.

Government speaks out

At a separate press conference, Mr Muruli Mukasa said government had reduced the Education ministry's budget on other items to raise the Shs150b to increase salaries for both teaching and non-teaching staff in all public education institutions in order to avert the strike by teachers.

He said the implementation of the salary enhancement for civil servants in the education sector will start in second quarter (October to December) of the current financial year.

Mr Muruli Mukasa said the cuts had affected inspection of service delivery, procurement of scholastic materials, maintenance of vehicles and staff training under the ministry.

"Shs135 billion will be for salary enhancement of teachers, instructors, tutors, lecturers, head teachers, principals and their deputies in primary schools, secondary schools and tertiary institutions. This will achieve enhancement of about 30 percent of the long-term pay target," he said.

The minister also added that public universities and degree awarding institutions will be allocated Shs15b to address salary enhancement for both teaching and non-teaching staff.

"The ministry of Public Service and the ministry of Education will work with institutions to ensure equitable allocation and distribution of the Shs15 billion. Public Service will provide a written statement to the vice chancellors who will communicate the government position to their staff," he added.

The Vice Chancellor of Makerere University, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, said the strike is illegal and any staff who will not report on duty tomorrow will face disciplinary action.

"The university is open and it will remain open. I know there is a group of people who met and declared a strike. It is a group which is not recognised by the law. So students should report at campus as planned," Prof Nawangwe told Daily Monitor in a telephone interview yesterday.

University heads warn on strike

"Everybody is expected to go on duty and I have communicated that to my staff. Those who think they can put the university at ransom at every start of the semester are warned. This time we are going to handle all non-performers who hide under the strike," he added.

The Vice Chancellor of Kyambogo University, Prof Eli Katunguka, said the staff cannot get all the money they want and urged them to accept the Shs15b.

"We had a meeting with the government at State House on Wednesday to address the issue of salary enhancement. The government agreed to give them Shs15b. This is a good gesture because that money was not included in the budget. So they should appreciate," Mr Katunguka said.

"We are going to write to all staff to report to work as they continue negotiating with the government. We ask those responsible for receiving students to go ahead and attend to them and we start the university as planned," he added.

Students threaten to join strike

Students in all public universities also threatened to join the strike in solidarity with their staff to exert pressure on government.

Mr Julius Kateregga, the guild president of Makerere University, said he would mobilise students from other public universities under their forum to join the strike.

"As students, especially from Makerere, we shall not lose time. Last semester, we lost a month and when time for compensation reached, they blocked us. We ask government and management to find a solution before we report on Saturday or we join the strike," Mr Kateregga said yesterday.

"I will mobilise students from other universities and we stand up against this. If the staff do not report on duty on Saturday, we shall demonstrate," he added.

Mr Jonathan Tundulu, the guild president of Kyambogo University, said the Guild Council leaders will receive the new students tomorrow on behalf of non-teaching staff.

"The students are coming back on Saturday and we cannot say we shall not receive them. But government and the Vice Chancellor should respond to the cry of the staff or else we shall stand in solidarity with the staff to demand their money," Mr Tundulu said.

Reaction

Prof Eli Katunguka, Vice Chancellor of Kyambogo University.

We had a meeting with government at State House on Wednesday to address the issue of salary enhancement. Government agreed to give them Shs15b. This is a good gesture because that money was not included in the budget. So they should appreciate."

Julius Kateregga, Makerere guild president.

We shall not lose time. Last semester, we lost a month and when time for compensation reached, they blocked us. We ask government and management to find a solution before we report on Saturday or we join the strike. I will mobilise students from other universities and we stand up against this.

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Don not get stuck at the well of argument. Let God be your vindicator. Let Him fight your battles. He will vindicate you better than you can vindicate yourself.

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