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Africa News of Tuesday, 2 February 2021

Source: monitor.co.ug

Uganda: Nurses call off strike after govt offers Shs70b

The Uganda Nurses and Midwives Union (UNMU) has called off their planned strike after government last Friday promised to give them Shs70 billion for lunch allowance.

The strike had been scheduled to start yesterday but in a January 30 letter, Mr Justus Cherop Kiplangat, the president of UNMU, said their demand has finally been met and hence the industrial action has been abandoned.

“I wish to inform you that, having had various meetings with ministries of Public Service, Health, Labour and finally with the Prime Minister, Rt Hon Ruhakana Rugunda, the government has finally accepted to give all nurses and midwives of Uganda lunch allowance of Shs15,000 effective the Financial Year 2021/2022,” Mr Kiplangat wrote to the union members.

Currently, nurses and midwives get Shs2,200 daily for lunch, which they say is not enough for a basic meal. Mr Kiplangat said their demand for better facilitation that started in 2018 is finally paying off. That year, the nurses and midwives went on strike, demanding that their welfare be improved like their colleague doctors. At the time, President Museveni accepted to honour their demand but government did not have enough money to effect the increment.

In the 2019/20 financial year, the Ministry of Finance included the lunch allowance in the proposed budget but it was later removed, setting another round of industrial action.

Mr Kiplangat in the weekend letter cautioned the government not to renege on its promise again.

“After the 2018 negotiations, government included this in the budget and after three months, they stopped paying and this time if it happens, we shall lay down our tools. Nurses and midwives are the back-borne of the health sector and without them doctors cannot work,” he said.

Past promises

Government had spent much of the later part of last year negotiating with the nurses’ leaders. Mr Wilson Muruli Mukasa, the minister for Public Service, last Friday said government had accepted the demands of the nurses.

“I wish to inform you that various consultative meetings have been held and consequently in a letter of reference ADM/10/01 dated January 29, 2021, the Prime Minister requested the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development to budget for Shs70,59b in FY 2021/2022 for honouring the President’s pledge of increasing the lunch allowance of nurses and midwives. In the view of the above, this is to request you to stay the industrial action by nurses and midwives,” Mr Muruli wrote to the union.

Currently, the budgeting process for the next financial year is ongoing and it remains to be seen if the funds will be included in the budget framework paper. The Finance ministry officials were not available to explain how far the process has gone.

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