UG likely headed for full-fledged strike

– as talks break down

Several hours of discussion with the University of Guyana Administration over a two-day period appears to have fallen apart and the three unions that formed ‘Operation Rescue UG’ said they may be going into a full-fledged strike as of tomorrow.

The University of Guyana Senior Staff Association (UGSSA), the University of Guyana Workers Union (UGWU) and the University of Guyana Student Society (UGSS) formed a coalition almost five weeks ago to protest against the deplorable conditions at the Turkeyen campus and the termination of lecturers’ contracts, specifically that of Freddie Kissoon.

Since then, several meetings have been held with the most recent being on Tuesday and yesterday between the unions and the Administration.

Stabroek News spoke with Vice President of the UGSSA, Melissa Ifill, last evening who revealed that after two long meetings, no full agreement was reached and as a result, strike action is likely to resume as of 9 am tomorrow.

“Talks have broken down and they will be meeting the staff 9 am on Friday 24th of February and they would most likely be going into a full strike,” she said.

She indicated that the first of the two meetings lasted for about four hours during which negotiations were progressing, although they did not arrive at any terms of agreement.

“They agreed to progress on three of the four items the union had advanced for consideration that they would set a framework and a mechanism to deal with those once [the staff] resumed duty. The fourth one, which related to the termination of the lecturers, they were not able to reach an agreement on that but they left it yesterday [Tuesday] with the administration, with the understanding that they would go and speak with their principals and return so they could address the issue,” Ifill explained.

However, when the meeting resumed yesterday, she said, the administration made a new proposal which dismissed what was agreed upon the previous day.

“The administration proposed that they return to work and they responded by saying that wasn’t acceptable and they wanted to reintroduce the three items that they [had] agreed upon yesterday which they spent a couple of hours dealing with. …since they couldn’t reach an agreement they asked the Ministry of Labour to facilitate a process of conciliation. But even that the administration refused to commit itself to…,“ she related.

Ifill said that as a union they felt that they have negotiated in good faith, but they are of the opinion that the UG administration team had not negotiated with them in good faith. She noted that on leaving the meeting two days ago, it was with the understanding that they were at the very least receiving permission to make decisions or that they [Univer-sity of Guyana team] would have been accompanied by the people who could make decisions.
“They had no one on their team who had the authority to make decisions,” Ifill concluded.

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