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Mak lecturers threaten to strike over Shs 40bn unpaid incentives

Makerere University lecturers have given the university council up to two weeks to pronounce itself on the Shs 40 billion unpaid incentives or else they lay down their tools. 

The decision was reached during the Makerere University Academic Staff Association (MUASA) emergency general assembly held at the School of Education conference Hall yesterday Friday. The incentives were introduced during the 2013/2014 academic year when the lecturers laid down their tools demanding for 100 per cent salary pay rise.

It is the same demands that led to the lecturers' strike about the same time last year leading to the closure of the university for months by President Yoweri Museveni.

Following the strike, Eng. Dr Wana Etyem, the Makerere University Council chairman, promised to pay lecturers their incentives for the months of February, March, April, May and June by June 2017. 

He requested staff to resume work while a special audit and Visitation Committee execute their duties, which would inform the future of the incentives.

"Aware that a special audit is underway, the University Council shall review the decision on incentive after a special audit report has been received and the decision taken shall be effective 1st July 2017," Dr Etyem said in his letter.

However, on Friday, the lecturers said they will not follow the recommendations of the visitation committee since it wasn't instituted by the University Council.

Dr Chris Mpirirwe says there is no reason for the University Council to wait for the visitation committee report, since it wasn't the one that commissioned it.

"I will not examine any dissertation of Masters any supervision because private programs are purely private. I think it is high time to really let council know; there’s no reason for them whatsoever to wait for this visitation report. It is not theirs and even if it is submitted to government it will take years before this report is implemented.

We very well  know that these government committees are just therapies, it is going to be shelved for years. Now if it is shelved for five years, are we going to keep doing the work when there’s nothing we’re gaining from it? Are we going to keep making money for other people to enjoy?", said Mpirirwe.

Dr Deus Muhwezi Kamunyu, the MUASA publicist, told URN that the staff are demanding over Shs 40 billion incentive arrears for over one year, adding that they have resolved to give the university council and management up to November 27th to pronounce themselves on the incentive.

"We’d asked that incentives be paid or else we lay down our tools, so we have given management and council two weeks to act on our resolution or else they shelve the examinations. It is incentives for one year which is close to Shs 35 billion.

Months have passed beyond the year so we’re talking close to Shs 40 billion of incentive. We have been engaging with them and we want commitment from them regarding our incentives or else they shelve the examinations according to the general assembly", Kamunyu said.
 
Dr Muhammad Kiggundu Musoke, the MUASA chairperson, says while the staff still look up to a full enhancement of their salaries, the University Council and management ought to continue looking for ways of improving the welfare of their staff until the promised enhancement is reached.

"We have extended so that we can allow the students to learn and that council can also get a way of attending to the incentives because people are still working - a year plus. So the extra load is not being paid for because the staff are working. No extra load is being paid for", said Kiggundu.

Adding: "The staff are also in a sorry state because even the salaries that we say are enhanced has not come to the top most, we’re just half way and you can imagine what the trouble can be like. So we did actually agree that council is supposed to address this and attend to the demands of the people with the spirit that looks at the employees as we also give in to have the teaching period completed."

In August 2014, President Museveni pledged to raise the gross salary of a university professor, the highest paid academic to Shs 15 million, starting in the 2015/2016 financial year. Currently, a professor earns Shs 8.5 million.

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