UG union vows legal action if lecturers contracts terminated

The University of Guyana Worker’s Union says it will take legal action against the university if moves by the government representatives on the university’s council to terminate the contracts of a number of lecturers are successful.

The union said yesterday that the move appeared to be political in nature and is designed to “get at certain lecturers because of the election campaign”. Stabroek News understands that the lecturers shortlisted included many who have served the university for a number of years.

According to a release issued by the union yesterday, the government representatives on the university’s academic council recently met at an extraordinary meeting of the council and the group, which includes Advisor to the President, Gail Teixeira; Permanent Secretary within the Education Ministry, Phulander Kandhai; PPP/C MP, Bibi Shadick; and Dr Prem Misir requested that the university’s Vice Chancellor (VC) immediately terminate the contracts of a number of lecturers.

Several attempts yesterday by this newspaper to contact registrar of the university, Vincent Alexander, on the issue were futile.

Student council president Dwaye Edwards told Stabroek News that he was not aware of the issue, noting that he recently assumed his current position. He said, however that the student body will issue a statement on the matter shortly.

According to the release, the government representatives posit that the VC does not have the power to issue contracts for the hiring of lecturers without same being ratified by the academic council. The release stated that it was explained to the government representatives that the VC acts on behalf of the university in the absence of the council and at the beginning of the new academic year, this is done when the council is not in session.

“It would be a disaster to wait until council meets to get the university classrooms moving,” the union noted adding that it is not the manner in which universities around the world operate. The release stated that Alexander pointed out to the government representatives that the university semester is in progress. However, the government representatives “want the termination to go-ahead and are insisting on their demands”.

The union noted that should the request of the government representatives be heeded, the result would be the disruption of a number of classes as the university would be unable to find adequate replacement lecturers and students who pay for their education would be badly affected.

Vice Chairman of the union Frederick Kissoon told Stabroek News yesterday that the body has contacted its lawyers who noted that the contracts, signed between the lecturers and the university, were solid legally.

The union said it would seek the intervention of the courts if the lecturers were terminated.

At the same time, the body sought to draw the issue to the attention of all stakeholders, including the university community, the opposition political parties, the private sector and academics at regional universities.

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