UG administration has breached terms of resumption – unions

The University of Guyana administration has breached the Terms of Resumption agreement it signed with the university’s workers unions on March 2, ending five weeks of industrial action.

The University of Guyana Senior Staff Association (UGSSA) and the University of Guyana Workers Union (UGWU) had signed a Terms of Resumption agreement and an Interim Salary Increase agreement with the administration.

In a joint letter to staff issued yesterday, the UGSSA and UGWU said that bad faith was exhibited on resumption, when the administration paid staff late rather than immediately as agreed upon.

The unions said they met the UG negotiating team for the first round of negotiations following their return to duty and it was “almost a monologue” since there was no negotiation between the parties.

“To say the meeting was farcical and insulting would be a massive understatement. The university’s team, led by the DVC [Deputy Vice Chancellor] of Academics in the absence of the VC [Vice Chancellor Jacob Opadeyi] responded to all the items contained in our memo of demands that 1. The university was unable to afford the demand at this time; 2. The practice/benefit remains as is or 3. The policy is being reviewed,” the letter stated, adding that no counter proposal was made by the university on any issue.

“This farce was just another illustration – if we needed more – of the bad faith exhibited by the VC since we resumed work,” the letter said, noting that demands were made to make some staff work back time spent on strike without coming to an agreement with the unions.

The letter stated further that since the administration had violated its obligations under the terms of resumption, staff were likewise under no obligation to honour the terms of resumption. It said a general meeting will be called soon to discuss the response to the breach.

“The struggle is not over so stay strong colleagues. Our overpaid senior administrators who will likely leave us before too long, are no match for us,” the letter said. The unions had called off all forms of industrial actions resuming classes on March 3. They were promised a 10% interim salary increase, effective January 1, 2015.

The collapse in negotiations between the UG administration and the unions over salary increases and the introduction of a workload policy without input of the academic community and the UGSSA had led to the industrial action.

UGWU President Bruce Haynes yesterday told Stabroek News that Opadeyi “has questions to answer.”

He said the unions would not be making moves until they have spoken with Opadeyi but a meeting would be called before the end of the week.

He stated although lecturers and other staff are back on duty, the situation may change. “We are being forced to contemplate our strike actions again,” he indicated, adding that he did not know how much further they could be pushed.

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