Nawangwe Warns Lecturers Ahead of Impending Strike

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In short
Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, the Makerere University Vice Chancellor, has warned lecturers against possible disruptions in case they go ahead with their planned strike.

Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, the Makerere University Vice Chancellor, has warned lecturers against possible disruptions in case they go ahead with their planned strike.
Lecturers under their umbrella Makerere University Academic Staff Association - MUASA, in an emergency general assembly on November 1, issued threats of strike in case they are not attended to.
Lecturers had given the University Council up to today, Tuesday November 7, to declare its position on staff incentives and salary harmonisation.
In a lengthy email to staff through their Webmail, however, Prof. Nawangwe appealed to staff to avoid striking since its repercussions would continue to injure the university's reputation.
"I would urge all of us to move cautiously in order to avoid any further disruption in University activities," Prof. Nawangwe said.
He says these disruptions have led to serious consequences for the University's image locally and internationally and have had negative implications for teaching and learning, research and its international partnerships.
Prof Nawangwe's call comes as the university prepares for the end of Semester One examinations which start on November 27.
According to Prof. Nawangwe, Makerere has in the last ten years experienced a drop in its revenue by 30 billion Shillings as a result of a drop in student enrolment partly blamed on such disruptions.
He cautions staff that as the university prepares to celebrate its centenary in five years' time, such disruptions may not go well with the institution's image.
"The struggle to continually improve the welfare of staff must continue, but it must be rational and sensitive to the reality that faces our University," Prof. Nawangwe says.
The last strike organised by MUASA over non-payment of incentive arrears led to closure of the University in November last year. All activities at Uganda's oldest university came to a stand-still as the institution remained closed for two months.
According to Prof. Nawangwe, the struggle to improve staff welfare has been on for the last 30 years.
On two occasions, the University Council has had to use internally generated funds to address the staff demands, including introduction of the incentive allowance in 2013, leading to heavy indebtedness of the University. Under the incentive programme, each staff was given a 70% salary top-up between 2014 and June 2016. The programme was, however, halted abruptly, with the University Council saying it was unsustainable.
Prof. Nawangwe explains that previous attempts by the University Council to increase tuition in order to sustain the incentive led to student riots.
This in turn prompted President Museveni to issue a directive for enhancement of staff salaries to enable the University utilize the internally generated incomes / Appropriation in Aid (AIA) which include student fees and grants for other pressing needs instead of the incentive.
"Since the President's directive, staff salaries have been enhanced on average by 120%, well above the staff demands of 100% salary increment, and the Government has pledged to implement the President's directive fully in a phased manner," Prof. Nawangwe says.
He says Council and the MUASA leadership agreed that the issue of sustainability of the incentive beyond 30st June 2016 would be settled after the Visitation Committee Report. The visitation committee was set up in November last year to probe into rampant strikes at Makerere. The committee was headed by Dr Abel Rwendeire who died last month before handing over the report to President Yoweri Museveni.
Salary Harmonisation
Following complaints by assistant lecturers about disparity in staff salaries for same qualifications across public universities, Makerere University Council set up a committee to advise Council after which Council is to address the problem to Government
Prof. Nawangwe explains that the "harmonisation of staff salaries basing on qualifications across public universities is beyond Council mandate and that any attempt to blame Council and Management "for this problem is not fair."
He however says that the committee on salary harmonisation has consulted all stakeholders, including the National Council for Higher Education - NCHE and is due to present its report to Council.


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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