Muasa chairperson Tanga Odoi (L) and other members talk after the meeting. Photo by Faiswal Kasirye

Makerere University lecturers under their umbrella organisation, Makerere University Academic Staff Association (Muasa), say they will not strike as they had promised since government is “positively responding” to their demands.

The lecturers had late in the semester threatened to resume industrial action that they had called off, citing failure by government to fulfill the memorandum of understanding it had signed with the university management.

“I would like to assure parents and students that the semester will open normally because government is positively responding to the demands that led us to lay down our tools last year, we will teach gladly despite our grievances,” Muasa spokesperson Louis Kakinda told journalists after a general assembly on Wednesday.

Muasa had met to discuss a draft inter-ministerial proposal to harmonise top-up allowances by tapping money from major units by 28 per cent on their annual budgets and channel it to staff.

This means that money on functional fees apart from the crucial one of hostel fees, which accommodates students feeding and the library fees, will be the only ones to remain untouched by the proposed measure.
However, the lecturers were by the end of the meeting divided on the proposals, saying their pay will still be low which will affect the innovativeness and morale in some units of the university.

The burden of loans
“You don’t expect a lecturer to continue handling more than 1,000 students when his/her top-up is reduced. I don’t think this will benefit any of us. Besides, how sustainable is it?” Mr Denis Mbabazi from the academic registrar’s department, asked.

If put into effect, his fellow staff who were initially earning Shs800,000 in top-up allowance will earn only Shs150,000.
“These people have loans which were obtained on their top-up,” he added.

While other lecturers such as Ms Grace Kabatwanga said this was the best mechanism to harmonise the issue of top-ups, they still feel the strain will continue to be felt in the university due to the ever increasing number of programmes.

The lecturers late last year went on strike demanding harmonisation of top- up allowances, increase of their salaries by 100 per cent as well as payment of pension money worth Shs16 billion the National insurance Corporation owed them.

By Abdu Kiyaga, Daily Monitor

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