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Lira University strike enters day three as administration plays ‘hide-and-seek’

One of the Blocks at Lira University Teaching Hospital (photo/courtesy)

Lira, (UG):- The strike by Health workers of Lira University Teaching Hospital in Lira City over low wages has entered day three as the university administration remains silent on addressing their grievances.

The over 200 health workers who include nurses, midwives and radiologists among others at Lira University announced on March 4th that they had laid down their tools and vowed to carry on with industrial action until their salaries are increased, just like the case with health workers of other public universities.

For instance, a nurse with a diploma who is currently receiving a net salary of Shs 1.44 million with a gross of Shs 2.09 million will under the revised salary structure receive a net salary of Shs 2.3 million from a gross pay of Shs 3.47 million.

Mr Ocwa Phylis the secretary of the National Union of Educational Institutions Lira University Branch during a recent press conference at Grand Pacific Hotel said that the Ministry of Public Service had directed Lira University to increase their salaries to the same tune as other public universities but this has not come to pass.

“We are starting our strike simply because of the failure of the University administration to listen to us. We are still being underpaid as compared to other university non-teaching staff,” Ocwa said.

Ocwa narrated that public service directives of 29th September 2022 direct all public to harmonize their structures and across all departments in comparison with other public universities.

“As NUEI-Lira University branch we tried all our best to involve the management but not much has changed,” Ocwa added.

Mr Jimmy Okeng, the association chairperson for Lira University said the University management is adamant on the problem affecting non-teaching staff.

Okeng believes the current strike will have an impact on the students who do their practice at the teaching hospital.

“We have the public who come to seek medical attention from the teaching hospital and also students come to do their practice from the same facility thus this strike will all those categories,” Mr Okeng said.

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What Lira University Administration says

However, in a letter dated 5th March 2024 from the office of the University Vice-chancellor, Prof Jasper Ogwal Okeng acknowledged receiving the notice from the aggrieved staff but did not provide an action going forward.

“This is to inform the general public that the Management of Lira University acknowledges receiving notice of Industrial Action from the National Union of Educational Institutions, Lira University Branch, dated March 1st 2024, signed by the Chairman and Secretary,” stated Prof Ogwal in the letter.

Prof Jasper Ogwal Okeng, the Vice Chancellor Lira University Teaching Hospital

According to the letter, it is indicated that the Teaching Hospital Staff will go on strike from March 4th 2024 and will not resume work until their salary is increased.

“These are hospital staff with Diploma qualifications only. Management would like to inform the general public that this purported Industrial Action has been taken with insufficient notice and without regard to due process,” reads the letter.

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“In the meantime, we would like to inform the general public that Lira University Teaching Hospital is not closed and services are running normally. All our doctors, degree nurses and midwives are at their stations alongside other willing diploma staff,” the Vice Chancellor stressed in the letter.

By Thursday evening, Mr Patrick Opion, the Public Relations Officer at Lira University told DailyExpress that the industrial action by the non-teaching staff especially diploma-holder staff, was still underway but “all is being done to address the matter.”

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