Govt Orders Striking Health Workers to Resume Work

3126 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
The Minister of Health Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng has directed all striking doctors in the country to resume work immediately lest they be sacked.

The Minister of Health Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng has directed all striking doctors in the country to resume work immediately lest they be sacked. 

The minister said that the striking health workers are doing so illegally, noting that the association that led them in a strike is illegal.

The health workers under their umbrella Uganda Medical Workers Association (UMA) on Monday declared a nationwide industrial action following government's failure to honour their welfare and improve working conditions.

Dr. Aceng, while addressing reporters on Thursday night at the Ministry of Health headquarters in Kampala, declared that UMA was not legally mandated to negotiate for welfare of medical workers. She ordered all medical workers to resume work with immediate effect.

According to Aceng, President Museveni had ordered that the Resident District Commissioners (RDCs) start immediately to supervise health centres and hospitals. She noted that the action by medical workers to lay down their tools has paralysed health services in most government hospitals.  

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Dr. Aceng said while the health workers' demands are genuine, they must exercise their rights with restraint and patience in order to allow government handle their issues in a phased manner.

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Government has also ordered medical interns who, according to Dr Aceng, were misled to join what she called an illegal strike to resume duty immediately, failure of which defiant interns are to forfeit their internship and be subjected to re-application.

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Dr. Aceng says that there is already a court order of March 1, 2017 that restrains UMA officials including Charles Yiga, Dr. Ekwaro Obuku and Eva Nangalo from interfering with any matter with the Uganda Medical Workers' Union, pending a court ruling. 

She argues that the current strike led by Dr. Ekwaro is in contempt of court. "Dr. Ekwaro Obuku mobilising the doctors to lay down their tools when they are under Medical Workers' Union tantamount to contempt of the Court Order."

Dr. Aceng also states that UMA is not a registered trade union to enjoy the rights and privileges provided under the Labour Union Act. She says UMA is a registered company whose mandate is not to interfere in the provision of services by the doctors at their work places as a trade union would, but to promote and maintain a high standard of professional ethics among members of the medical profession.  

"Therefore, the involvement of UMA in influencing the public service activities by calling on doctors to strike is illegal and should cease henceforth and the perpetrators should be treated as trespassers," Dr. Aceng stated. 

Government faults UMA for usurping the powers of the labour unions to initiate an 'illegal' strike without following laws that govern industrial action among civil servants in the public service. These are provided for in the Negotiating, Consultative and Disputes Settlement Machinery Act of 2008.

Workers union blames Dr. Lyomoki for Strike

Wilson Owere, the Chairman General of the National Organisation of Trade Union (NOTU), said that medical workers have been brainwashed by Dr. Obuku and Dr. Sam Lyomoki to believe their political stunts of promising them enhanced salaries. 

Owere says the health workers are just excited about what they are being told and that the two people are positioning themselves politically to manipulate the already unsuspecting health workers. He says NOTU will not allow the two individuals to create tension in the country.

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Owere said he will not allow politics to interfere with workers negotiation. He also said that he wants workers to give government a chance to bridge the gap in salary disparities during the on-going salary review process.

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Christopher Peter Werikhe, the NOTU General Secretary when asked why the Health Workers had refused to heed to their calls not to participate in the strike, said the NOTU has been hijacked by Dr. Lyomoki who has been pushing his selfish interests. 

Dr Lyomoki represents workers in Parliament.

Werikhe argues that even the proposals made by UMA were stolen from NOTU's negotiations with government and blamed them for rushing to the media to publish them ahead of NOTU.

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About the author

Davidson Ndyabahika
Davidson Ndyabahika is a Journalism major from Makerere University and is passionate about investigative and data journalism with special interest in feature story telling.

He has gone through digital and multi-media training both at Ultimate Multimedia Consult, and has attended Data Journalism Sessions at ACME to enrich his capacity in data journalism.

Davidson has previously freelanced with The Campus Times, The Observer, Chimp reports and URN. He is currently reporting under Education. He is also passionate about reporting on environment, health, crime and political satire writing.

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