UG unions should reconsider their plans for continued stoppages

Dear Editor,
The Ministry of Labour has been kind enough to offer guidance on the status of the contract of employment during periods of industrial action.

As is the general industrial relations practice, under a contract of employment, the employee provides his labour and the employer remunerates that labour.

The Trade Union Recognition Act 1997, Section 2 (i) stipulates that, inter alia, a “strike” refers to stoppage of work, refusal to work, remaining at work, and comprises any concerted disruption of work or slowing down by workers referred to as “sit down strike” or “a go slow.” And the Act indicates that employees on strike and/or other forms of industrial unrest are not fulfilling the terms of their contracts of employment.

Breaching the terms of the contract such as engaging in “sit-ins,” etc, may have implications for employee remuneration. Workers have the right to participate in industrial action, but such engagement may result in a violation of the terms of their contractual conditions of employment.

There is no evidence to show that the University of Guyana Senior Staff Association (UGSSA) and the University of Guyana Workers Union (UGWU) are recognized bargaining unions for workers under Part III of the Trade Union Recognition Act 1997. Also, there is no current trade union collective bargaining agreement with the University of Guyana.

In light of the above information from the Ministry of Labour, it would be advisable that the unions reconsider their plans for continued stoppages of work.
Yours faithfully,
Prem Misir
University of Guyana

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