After four weeks of strike action by University of Guyana staff over collapsed pay hike negotiations with the university’s administration, the picketing exercise will be heading to UG’s Tain campus in Berbice to support staff there, who are succumbing to pressure, President of the University of Guyana Workers Union (UGWU) Bruce Haynes said.
He further mentioned that the UGWU and the University of Guyana Senior Staff Association (UGSSA) which is headed by Dr Mellissa Ifill, will be meeting Minister of Labour Dr Nanda Gopaul today.
During a telephone interview with Stabroek News, Haynes revealed that the protest which is usually held in front of the entrance to the university’s Turkeyen campus, will be heading to the Tain campus tomorrow.
He said it was hoped the unions would lay out their concerns and demands at the meeting today, but were uncertain of the results. The meeting was organized by the Guyana Trades Union Congress. He added that the situation with the administration remains the same.
In response to Stabroek News’ request for comment on the position taken by the University of Guyana Student Society (UGSS) for the resumption of classes and talks between the staff and the administration, the UGWU President said that it was the right of the students to demand that. However, he said they have not experienced what the staff have experienced over the past three year with the administration. He opined that the students might be of the belief that all had been well with the lecturers who just wanted an increase. Rather, Haynes said it was the reluctance of the administration to deal with the welfare of staff that caused the current situation at UG.
He also expressed the belief that the administration is not acting, out of fear of the political directorate on the council.
The UG academic and non-academic staff commenced their industrial action in the form of a sit-in on January, 26, which grew into what they described as a “full blown” strike. On Monday that strike was intensified with a march to the city which stopped at the Office of the President and the ministries of Labour and Education along the route for brief picketing exercises.
Additionally, the workers and lecturers on strike have since reiterated that they will not end their industrial action until a workable offer is made, in response to repeated calls for them to return to work from UG Vice Chancellor Jacob Opadeyi and the Ministry of Labour.
The workers are demanding a 60 per cent increase and the improvement of working conditions among other things.