UG unions mobilizing strike relief fund

In full strike mode from today, the two University of Guyana (UG) unions are mobilizing a relief fund to aid their more vulnerable members.

The University of Guyana Workers Union (UGWU) and the University of Guyana Senior Staff Association (UGSSA) met on Friday and agreed to up their action from a sit-in strike after UG Vice Chancellor Jacob Opadeyi had withdrawn a wage increase offer on Thursday, stating that the university would not negotiate under duress. Aside from wages, the lecturers are also protesting a new workload policy.

Yesterday, UGSSA President Mellissa Ifill and UGWU President Bruce Haynes issued a joint statement saying that they understood the pressure on their members and would try to help.

“We understand the strain that this action has and might have on all of us. We are particularly mindful of the impact on UB staff. We have commenced collecting strike relief which will be given in the first instance to the most vulnerable among us who have expressed solidarity with our call for industrial action.

“We have also prepared letters that will be sent to all the commercial banks and credit institutions advising them of our industrial action and requesting that they allow affected staff members time to honour their obligations without imposing late payment penalties. These will be delivered by Wednesday to all institutions. If anyone wants an individual letter, please contact us for same”, the statement said.

With strike action set to start at UG’s main entrance from 8 am today, the unions urged all lecturers to join them saying that “the situation at UG is abnormal and abysmal. It will never improve … unless we continue to insist they change”.

Students of the university have also expressed solidarity with the lecturers as they have expressed a litany of concerns with the administration over the poor state of the Turkeyen campus and other problems.

At their meeting on Friday, the two unions also agreed to write a letter to President Donald Ramotar requesting his urgent intervention in the crisis prior to the dissolution of Parliament.

They also agreed to write a letter to the Minister of Labour, Dr N K Gopaul noting the breakdown of talks and requesting the Ministry’s intervention in resolving the crisis.

Yesterday’s statement said that the two letters to the President and the Minister of Labour will be delivered by hand this morning.

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