Two months after classes resumed at the University of Guyana Turkeyen Campus, ‘Operation Rescue UG’ says it has not seen much progress and the option of further action is being considered.
“We will take action. We will take whatever action is necessary whether it be further industrial action or taking it to the courts… but we are giving the administration, the government and all the other people involved the opportunity to do what is right and we are trying not to be unreasonable,” President of the University of Guyana Senior Staff Association (UGSSA), Dr. Patsy Francis told Stabroek News yesterday.
UG lecturers and members of the student body protested for several weeks earlier this year against the dismissal of lecturers, Freddie Kissoon in particular, and the deplorable conditions at the campus. The University of Guyana Students Society (UGSS), the University of Guyana Workers Union (UGWU) and the UGSSA had joined with students in a collaborative effort to fight for these causes under the title ‘Operation Rescue UG’.
Satisfaction came on February 26 when a meeting was called by Minister of Labour, Dr. Nanda Gopaul and several terms of agreement were signed and the parties returned to work the following day.
“With regards to the firing of the lecturers, we are very unhappy with the manner in which the Ministry of Labour has handled the matter and we have written to them indicating this dissatisfaction and this is about one month ago and we are still to hear from them. We will still give the Minister (Gopaul) the opportunity to speak to the matter but if he doesn’t, we will have to take action,” Francis stated.
She explained that although the unions have worked tirelessly to improve the standards of the Turkeyen campus, results are not evident and this has led to much frustration.
“We put up a petition to parliament that speaks to the issue of the composition of the council but this hasn’t been read yet… probably have to wait until the budget business is finished,” she said while pointing out that a meeting with the Education Minister, Priya Manickchand has also been requested.
This is expected to occur during the course of this week when discussions will be based on funding for the campus, the composition of the council, governance and a few other issues that are affecting the university.
Francis also pointed out that the $900M that has been allocated to the University of Guyana, for both the Turkeyen and Berbice campuses, is only about 5% more than last year and is considered insufficient.
“The leader of the opposition and the AFC are speaking on our behalf as it relates to the budget. We are already in deficit, $248M deficit for last year already. If you are gonna give us almost the same amount as last year and we are already in deficit and there’s already so much work to be done on campus… it is clearly inadequate,” the UGSSA President posited.
With regards to the World Bank loan of US$10M, Francis said that while some elements have been put in place, she is not interested in the antecedents but only in the signing of the document.
“The longer they take to sign, the longer the first disbursement will take to be made and the conditions on the campus remain the same. We cannot wait, the country cannot wait… people are graduating every year without training so for these people, the World Bank loan is very important,” she noted.