On Tuesday July 11, a section of public universities non-teaching downed their tools to push for equitable distribution of salary enhancement.
A meeting held between State Minister for Planning David Bahati and Public University staff representatives has failed to agree on a common position.
The staff at Kyambogo and Makerere universities respectively declared industrial action in protest of the July 1st Ministry of Public Service circular on new salary structure to take effect in the 2017/2018 financial year.
The staff members accuse their colleagues in the senior administrative category of using the money meant for salary enhancement for all staff to benefit them by equating themselves to academic staff.
To ensure equity in the salary enhancement across categories of staff in public universities, Government, effective the 2016/2017 financial year started to enhance salaries for the Non-teaching staff. Government had also promised to pay the salary arrears arising out of non-payment of enhanced salaries in the financial year 2015/2016 in a phased manner starting in the 2016/2017 financial year.
This financial year, government released a total of 19.6 billion Shillings to enhance salaries for both teaching and non-teaching staff in public universities. The money is part of 3.5 trillion Shillings allocated for the wage bill for all public officers in the 2017/2018 financial year.
Staff advocated for a single-spine salary structure which places all public service employees on a single vertical salary scale. Documents studied by URN, however, indicate different salary structures for various public universities. While Kyambogo University structure for non-teaching staff begins from M3 to M15, the one at Makerere University ends at M22.
And the enhancement did not harmonise the salary structure. For instance M15 at Kyambogo University is a level of a cleaner and office messenger earning 883,236 Shillings. In the proposed structure a staff at M15 will be earning 947,274 Shillings which is contested as staff want an equitable enhanced position of 1,474,733 Shillings.
This is compounded by the realisation that a staff with similar responsibilities at Makerere and Mbarara universities was earning 649,857 Shillings last year and will earn 685,691 Shillings this financial year. While this is an increment of at least 35,000 Shillings, it still falls short of what the Kyambogo staff earns, even shorter than the required 1.4 million Shillings.
Prof. Eli Katunguka Rwakishaya, the Kyambogo University Vice Chancellor blamed the disparity in salary scales at public universities on the Ministry of Public Service. Prof. Katunguka argues that people should be paid salaries based on their job titles and what they do and not because of the salary scales in which they fall.
He notes that the current structure is full of distortions which the ministry needs to rework. Prof. Katunguka wondered why a driver and a cleaner in M15 scale at Kyambogo will earn over 940,000 Shillings yet the same category worker in Makerere will only earn 527,000 Shillings.
Allan Muhereza, the Assistant Commissioner in charge of Integrated Personnel Payroll System in the Ministry of Public Service, says that the salary scale disparity was the individual public university’s problem.
He argues however that this inconsistency will only be resolved once the Job Evaluation report recommendations are adopted.