Ugandan Teachers fight for Living Wage

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Teachers demonstrating last Year

Teachers in Uganda are striking for a salary increase which will provide them with a living wage

Teachers in Uganda earn as little as $96 a month under conditions where inflation is running at 20+%. The teachers - who are members of the union Ugandan National Teachers Association (UNATU) are demanding a 100% rise. Teachers are among the worst paid government employees in the country - yet Yoweri Museveni - President of Uganda since 1986 - says that an increase for teachers is not a priority. Instead the government is prioritising infrastructure which will allow it to become one of the world's top 50 oil producers.

Last year there were demonstrations in Uganda against rising food and fuel prices which saw 9 people killed and many more injured in a government crackdown. Last week, teachers attempted to hold a meeting at Bat Valley Primary School and were prevented from doing so by the police.  Teachers have been subjected to harrassment, verbal abuse, arrests and forced apologies at the hands of the security services.

Ms Teopista Birungi -Secretary Gerneral of UNATU said of the government's below-inflation offer: “The teachers clearly state and reject the offer of 15 per cent as a mockery. We don’t want the government to think that they are doing us a favour."

A development consultant, Professor Nuwagaba was quoted on this website as follows on the issue of Ugandan teachers' pay: 

“The problem (of teachers’ low pay) has been worsened by the biting inflation now standing at over 21.4 per cent. The food inflation is actually around 43 per cent. This means teachers and all other salaried workers have either to dig deeper into their pockets if they want to purchase the same basket of goods or else they have to cut their budget.

“Actually, majority cannot even cut their budget any further because they are already surviving marginally. They are actually on life support! Otherwise, how do you explain the means of survival for a person whose salary is Shs260,000, yet, a sack of charcoal is Shs80,000? One wonders where people get money from. This is why there is high absenteeism . . . because it is about survival.

“Unless the teachers are shopping from different markets, it defeats any understanding that one can work and survive on such meagre pay. Talk of patriotism; show me a more patriotic person and I will show you a teacher. Many a person have left Uganda for greener pastures but teachers have worked through thick and thin to serve our motherland.” To read the article in full go to: http://allafrica.com/stories/201109090120.html

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