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Medical workers end strike after more govt promises

junior doctors will earn Shs 5 million, pharmacists will bag Shs 4.8 million whereas a consultant will earn Shs 17 million. A senior consultant will earn Shs 20 million together with a perk of a chauffeur-driven car.

Doctors under the Uganda Medical Association (UMA) have today ended their 29-day sit-down strike after the government committed to progressively handling their grievances.

UMA president, Dr Samuel Oledo urged medical workers to resume work tomorrow Thursday, saying the government has finally committed to addressing their grievances of low pay, understaffing, compensating families of those that died of COVID-19 and restocking of drugs and sundries.

He said doctors will receive their enhanced salary of Shs 5million starting July next year when the new financial year starts. According to him, the government has also committed to considering getting them duty-free vehicles and is now putting together with members of a task force to handle issues of compensation. 

UMA has already submitted the names of seven members to sit on the committee. These will be representing and negotiating for families of the 85 health workers that died, of whom 35 were medical doctors.   

“Today marks our 29th day, and today marks the day that you can see our faces we’re speaking with some little joy on our faces indicating that we have the absolute assurance to Ugandans that our patients matter most. And giving a service is an inherited right that doctors have inside them,” said Oledo.

The doctors went on strike last month with threats of not budging until the actualization of their salary enhancement which has been pending since 2017. However, following sideline negotiations with the government, UMA has called off the strike and given the government up to April next year to start implementing some of their demands.

“Doctors have been given the Shs 5 million, bachelors medical Shs 4.8 million, the diploma has been put at Shs 3 million, can you believe even certificate they have been put at Shs 2 million and that is cross-cutting. We’re excited about this and we’re grateful that this has been put to effect. Secondly, the issue of the task force established that the fountain of honour had discussed and had given his word that would be instated before the closure of this year. So we expect the 7 members of Uganda Medical Association, the list is already at the desk of the fountain of honour and we got reliable information that it shall be inaugurated by the fountain of honour and will work with the fountain of honour to address,” added Oledo.

By the time they went on strike this time, their salaries had only been enhanced once to Shs 3 million. Oledo says if government repeats the same tricks this time, they will without notice go back to industrial action on May 1, 2022. 

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UMA secretary-general Dr Herbert Luswata says their glimmer of hope and new decision arises from the fact that the recent Shs 35 billion supplementary budget is catering for medical interns salaries of Shs 2.5 million each and restocking of drugs.

He says since the law provides that interns earn half the pay of their senior colleagues so there’s no way the government will fail to implement it especially now that there’s now a court decision where the ministry of Health is committing to the pay.

According to the new deal, junior doctors will earn Shs 5 million, pharmacists will bag Shs 4.8 million whereas a consultant will earn Shs 17 million. A senior consultant will earn Shs 20 million together with a perk of a chauffeur-driven car.

Doctors say their negotiations were crosscutting all through the medical fraternity as the changes will also be affected for graduate nurses and medical laboratory professionals who only announced their strike on Monday.

However, the medical laboratory professionals insist that their grievances haven’t been attended to and that they are continuing with their industrial action. Uganda Medical Laboratory Technology Association (UMLTA) secretary general Patrick Dennis Alibu said they want government to pay graduate lab professionals, the same pay of Shs 5million as medical doctors.

“Our position is not in line with theirs, the industrial action we held was strictly under the association of the lab technicians. So if they call off theirs based on the negotiations they have had with government, as lab techs, we have not been engaged, ours remains. Then the salary disparities, the negotiation has not taken effect to our interest. So if the doctors have theirs that is them, this is the stand of the lab fraternity. Our stand is we are still on strike,” said Alibu. 

But, Oledo says, the absence of the lab technicians will not stop them from attending to patients and that they are better off calling off the latest strike. According to him, in the new deal, medical laboratory technicians have also been catered for and will have their salaries enhanced as well.

Also Read  University lecturers announce strike over salaries

SOURCE: UGANDA RADIO NETWORK.

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