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University staff suspend strike

Non-teaching staff at public universities have suspended a nationwide sit down strike that was started last Sunday.

The staff, organised as Public Universities of Uganda Non-Teaching Staff Executive Forum (PUNTSEF) - 4,000 in total according to officials, went on strike last week citing government's failure to clear FY 2015/2016 salary arrears and granting them a pay rise in the 2016/2017 as was directed by President, Yoweri Museveni.

Jackson Betihamah, the chairperson of PUNTSEF, says they decided to suspend the strike ahead of their meeting with Permanent Secretary and Secretary to the Treasury, Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development  Keith Muhakanizi this evening to resolve the stalemate over their salaries.
 
"We have not yet called off the strike and we shall call it off after payment of these salaries in August. But again we want to resolve that we suspend the strike and resume work immediately after the meeting with the PS. And that means that tomorrow we shall be having general assemblies in all public universities to resolve to go back to work. We are appealing to parents, to students, to the government and other stakeholders in higher education to keep calm and bear with us", Betihamah said. 
 
According to Betihamah, during their meeting with the Finance and Education Ministry Officials, they will harmonise payrolls and payment scale to remove the discrepancies, which have affected staff in some universities.
 
Betihamah also said they are also going to pass a resolution against Obua Selestino, the Vice Chancellor of Mbarara University of Science and Technology for intimidating the non-teaching staff for their involvement in the industrial action.
 
"People in Mbarara [University] were intimidated by their VC Prof Obua and as Puntsef we want to make a resolution against that VC. He is intimidating staff and I want this appeal to reach him, I have gone over the media to warn him. Let him know that labour relations are not really debated. Who is he to intimidate staff, he should know that he is not above the terms and conditions of the service. The University has a human resource manual and which gives the staff to operate in accordance to the labour laws, so we are warning Prof Obua to behave like a professor who knows management and labour relations but not kangaroo management", Betihamah said.

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