Kampala - Ugandan school teachers went on strike on Monday
after their demands for a 20% pay increase were rejected, underlining the
strains the government faces after Western donors cut off direct budget support
The government has long promised to raise teachers'
salaries, among the lowest in the east African country's state sector, but has
struggled to meet spending commitments since the donors cut aid over corruption
In July, it emerged that tens of thousands of public workers
including teachers and police officers had not received their pay for months.
James Tweheyo, secretary general of Uganda National Teachers
Union (Unatu), said the union's 159 000 members would not teach from Monday,
when schools re-open for their final term this year, until their demands are
Uganda's 160 000 teachers are among the worst paid public
workers in the east African country. Primary school teachers earn an average 250
000 shillings ($97.16) a month and their secondary school counterparts take
home 450 000 shillings.
"We are not going to class from today and that's the
position of all teachers across the country," he told Reuters.
Uganda’s spending plans
"We know in the villages some might be intimidated by
local officials but even if they are forced into classes, they won't
In the past, the government has been accused of using its
security personnel to intimidate striking teachers into resuming work. The
government denies the allegations.
Analysts say it is not only the aid cuts that have hurt
Uganda's spending plans. Embezzlement, the extravagance of government
officials, and the rising cost of political patronage have exacerbated the
budgetary strain, they said.
President Yoweri Museveni, who has faced sometimes violent
protests against his rule, is accused by critics of failing to punish officials
who steal public funds and presiding over a bloated bureaucracy which eats
"There are consultations going on right now at the
ministerial level ... but it's not possible to meet that demand now," said
Ofwono Opondo, a government spokesperson.
"Unatu is not the teachers' employer. The government is
and we have told them if the push comes to a shove the government will