The Auditor General’s Office is to undertake a special audit of the finances of the University of Guyana (UG) and Vice Chancellor Ivelaw Griffith says he welcomes it.
In a statement issued last night, UG said the Ministry of Education, in a letter to the UG Council, advised that a request was made to the Auditor General’s Office to conduct a special audit of the university’s finances, following a request by the workers’ unions—the University of Guyana Senior Staff Association (UGSSA) and the University of Guyana Workers’ Union (UGWU).
The statement quoted Griffith as saying, “The Administration welcomes the opportunity to clear the air on allegations and assertions by the unions and other individuals.” He added, “We have long indicated such, both directly to the UG Unions and in my two recent memoranda to the University community.”
The move comes after the administration had told the two unions that the university was not in a position to pay further salary increases for 2018, after having paid a 4% salary increase to the academic staff and a 3% increase to the non-academic staff in December last year.
The statement said, “On February 13, 2019, in an update to the members of the UG Community on the industrial climate at Turkeyen and the call by the Unions for a forensic audit, the Vice Chancellor noted that the Administration is willing to have its financial position examined by any competent and independent arbiter.”
It further noted that following the resumption of picketing on the campus by the unions on March 15th, Griffith, in a further update to the UG Community, had reiterated the administration’s willingness to have an audit done by an independent arbiter.
It added that Griffith indicated that the Administration had decided to turn the dispute over to the Labour Department for conciliation.
Stabroek News had contacted Chief Labour Officer Charles Ogle about the status of conciliation between the two parties but he had related that he did not receive any communication from them about it.
Meanwhile, the UG statement emphasised that the administration is adamant that talks with the unions should not focus exclusively on salaries and that performance and a collective bargaining agreement should also be discussed.
It added that the administration is also awaiting a response from the unions to its weeks-old request for several documents as part of efforts to be consistent in the pursuit of accountability and transparency. The documents sought include their Articles of Association, Certificates of Recognition, statements of income and expenditure for recent years, and recent annual returns and audited statements, the statement added.