Government has reiterated its stand not to negotiate with Uganda Medical Association-UMA over the welfare of medical workers. The Minister of Health, Ruth Aceng disclosed said this while meeting with the leadership of Uganda Medical Association at Statistics House in Kampala on Wednesday morning.
“UMA isn’t a trade union and therefore can’t negotiate with government on the medical worker’s welfare,” she said. Adding that, “The Health Ministry appreciates the working conditions of the medical workers and is committed to improving the situation”.
Medical doctors under their umbrella body Uganda Medical Association laid down their tools nationwide on Monday last week to compel government to give them an almost 100 percent pay rise. However, the Attorney General, William Byaruhanga said that the mandate to negotiate with government lies with trade unions as provided for in the 2008 Labour Union Act.
“We have just come here to address you, we can talk to you as an association but we cannot negotiate with you. You should know that. This is information that you need to know,” Byaruhanga said. “Government will adopt plan B if you fail to return to work. Our priority is the patients who have not been attended to. We request you to return to work,” he added.
The Deputy Attorney General, Mwesigwa Rukutana took a swipe at the striking intern doctors, saying they can’t call themselves doctors and can’t demand salaries. “What interns are paid is an appreciation, which can’t be termed as an allowance,” he said.
He asked the intern doctors to drop their demands and return to work. The intern doctors also voted to join the strike, saying they want a pay rise from the current Uganda Shillings 960,000 to Shillings 2.5 million.
However, in an earlier demand, the doctors want an intern doctor to earn Shillings 8.5 million. They also want medical and teaching assistants to earn Shillings 15 million, get a two-bedroom house and a 2.5cc vehicle.
They also want government to pay senior consultant doctors or professors Shillings 48m including allowances on top of providing them a five-bedroom house, 4.0cc vehicle and three domestic workers. Apparently, senior consultant doctors earn about Shs3.4 million, consultant Shs2.6m, and a medical officer Shs1.1 million.
The doctors also want salaries for nurses and midwives enhanced to about Shillings 6.5 million besides providing them a three-bedroomed house, 2.0cc vehicle and a single domestic worker. It isn’t clear whether the doctors will end their strike and resume work.
In the past, Uganda Medical Association said they will stay away from work until government meets their demands. Also striking, are prosecutors who have spent over a month away from court, until government gives them a pay rise plunging the entire justice system into a crisis.