State Prosecutors under their umbrella body of Uganda Association of Prosecutors (UAP) have given government a 14-day ultimatum to address their grievances which include low salaries and better working conditions, short of which they will embark on a sit down strike.
The decision was arrived at during an extraordinary assembly, the association held at Imperial Royale Kampala yesterday.
224 out of the 239 members of the association voted to decide on the next course of action.
The members agreed for the 14 day ultimatum to commence Monday next week when it will be officially communicated to government. In the meantime, they agreed to continue working normally.
The Prosecutors through Chairman David Baxter Bakibinga are confident that their industrial action, if government doesn’t respond, will greatly affect work in courts across the country.
The prosecutors, who currently earn as low as Shs. 640,000 a month, want a salary increment of up to Shs. 9million. They also want their boss, the DPP who earns Shs. 11 million to be given 40 million. DPP Mike Chibita attended the meeting.
Speaking in response at the meeting, Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Gen Kahinda Otafiire asked the government prosecutors to remain calm, saying that government was fully aware of their concerns.
“We do understand your problems but the issue is how to go about it. I have already talked to the president who asked me to ensure that you select representatives with whom we shall meet the Minister of Finance, Minster for Public Service, Secretary to the Treasury and the Prime Minister to find solutions to this problem”
Otafiire also advised them not to start with the strike as the first action, but to first exhaust all diplomatic avenues.
“The most successful Generals are those who win without firing any single bullet; industrial action may not help. Don’t use the biggest gun at the beginning of the battle. You should allow us time to work on this issue since it is coming up for the first time.”
However, Senior State Attorney Tom Walugembe the General Council for the Association told the meeting that they retain their right to strike but it must be done lawfully to avoid bad implications.
He added that during the strike, the employer is entitled to withhold their salaries, noting that they would have to forego some benefits including vehicles, body guards and salaries for their cause to materialize.
The prosecutors say they earn peanuts while handling risky and complicated cases like murder, terrorism which puts their lives at times in harm’s way.