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UGANDA: Civil servants give mixed reactions on pay per day

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Dr Ezra Suruma, the head of Delivery Unit at the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), announced on Tuesday that the government plans to install biometric machines at public schools and hospitals to monitor employees’ availability at work and output. Photo by Alex Esagala

KAMPALA (DAILY MONITOR) – Associations of central and local government employees yesterday expressed mixed reactions to a proposal to pay civil servants per day worked instead of the current guaranteed monthly salary.

Dr Ezra Suruma, the head of Delivery Unit at the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), announced on Tuesday that the government plans to install biometric machines at public schools and hospitals to monitor employees’ availability at work and output.
In an interview yesterday, Mr Dunstan Balaba, the chairman of chief administrative officers (CAOs) association, said they welcome the initiative, but doubt it will motivate the workers to report on duty.
“We have not yet been briefed about how this is going to work, but [may be] the Ministry of Public Service will soon issue a circular to that effect. We have been paying salaries for 30 days and weekends,” he said.
Although Mr Walter Okiring Elakas, the vice president of Uganda Local Government Authorities Association, welcomed the proposal, he said monitoring physical presence of the workers at duty stations alone will not guarantee quality provision of services.
“They can decide to clock-in in the morning, go and do private business and return to clock-out in the evening. We need to frequently supervise these people, but we are poorly facilitated,” Mr Elakas said.
Uganda National Teachers’ Union general secretary Filbert Baguma said they welcome the digital system if the data generated and analysed will not be used to witch-hunt them.
“You do not expect a teacher who lives 15 kilometres away to always be early in class yet there are no houses for accommodation or rent near school. We have more priorities, including [need for] scholastics,” Mr Baguma said.
Dr Okwaro Ebuku, the president of Uganda Medical Association, said the government is misfiring because Public Service standing orders dictate that civil servants must work for 40 hours a week yet medical workers work for more than 60 hours. Dr Ebuku wondered whether the government would pay them for the extra hours.
“Health workers are simply few and when they are absent from work, 75 per cent are away because of valid reasons. When the machine deducts the days, will they start paying the extra hours?” he asked.
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