After about three weeks of strike action, the doctors are back to work following an understanding with the government. However, we must not celebrate too soon as the doctors have indicated readiness to lay down their tools again next month if the government doesn’t deliver on its promises.
Meanwhile, nurses and midwives have threatened to go on strike too by December 5, if their demands are not met. We must not forget that state prosecutors are still on strike several weeks after they laid down their tools.
Their strike action has crippled the criminal justice system, with the prosecution of criminal cases grinding to a halt and police cells and prisons across the country chocking with suspects.
Earlier this year, judicial officers too went on strike, and lecturers of Makerere University have threatened to take similar action. At this rate, several other public sector workers might soon follow suit.
Yet this should not surprise us. The cost of living has been rising steadily but the wages and salaries, both in the public and private sectors, are not keeping up. The economy has been performing badly and the effects are there for all to see.
What is annoying, however, and probably instigating workers to resort to strike action, is the feeling that the government is oblivious to people’s suffering or simply doesn’t care.
While adversely affected individuals have been forced to adjust their lifestyles to survive in these hard times, the government continues to spend taxpayers’ money inconsiderately.
Politicking remains top priority, with billions of shillings recently spent on a scheme to amend the Constitution to allow the incumbent extend his hold onto power.
Public administration expenditure continues to rise to irrigate the politics of patronage, government officials continue to purchase luxury fuel-guzzling vehicles, and many of them have convoys of two to three cars.
The president travels with at least 25 cars and is fond of giving out cash handouts wherever he goes. And top public officials are entitled to costly medical treatment abroad, to mention just a few sticking issues.
Amid the hard economic times, people have realised that members of the ruling class are cushioned from the situation, hence the temptation for some in public service to resort to the only weapon at their disposal – withdraw of labour.