Internet Radio

UG workers to protest unpaid deductions, poor working conditions

In the foreground at table: L to R, UGSSA Chairman Dr. Patsy Francis, her Vice Chairman Dr. Melissa Ifill and UGWU President Bruce Haynes address a workers’ meeting in UG’s Senior Common Room, Turkeyen Campus.

Although University of Guyana (UG) workers were expected to begin receiving June salaries on Friday, they plan to pressure authorities to pay all deductions to the relevant agencies.

The Workers Union (UGWU) and Senior Staff Association (UGSSA) together plan to take legal action on behalf of their members to compel the tertiary institution to pay social security, income tax and insurance deductions.

Union leaders also announced plans to picket the UG administration from Monday to demand that Vice Chancellor Professor Jacob Opadeyi address them on the state of the institution and what remedial measures are being taken to ensure workers are paid on time. “He has to stand up and he has to face us. He cannot do otherwise,” he said.

This is the second consecutive month that workers have been told that they could not have been told on the statutory third Thursday of the month.

Expressing concern about the condition of the institution and Opadeyi’s management style, UGSSA Chairman Dr. Patsy Francis said workers would ask parliament to instead appoint a management committee. “I don’t think that the VC (Vice Chancellor could manage the university in the crisis mode that it is,” said Francis. “What I’m seeing is that the university is becoming more mismanaged since he is here,” she said, adding that she was unsure whether Opadeyi was getting the Council’s support.

The Nigeria-born naturalised national of Trinidad and Tobago was appointed Vice Chancellor in December 2012.

Opadeyi confirmed that government released GUY$50 million in addition to the GUY$85 million subvention that has been already provided. Government officials said that on average GUY$60 million is provided monthly to the university. But Opadeyi explained that extra cash was needed this month to pay part-time lectures, 40 staffers who have embarked on study leave and gratuities to a fresh batch of retirees. The university had Thursday advised workers that they could not have been paid on time because the subvention was insufficient.

The workers’ unions also plan to embark on a ‘work-to-rule’ from Monday to Friday next week to pressure UG and government to pay all deductions to relevant agencies up to June as well as all gratuities and allowances that have been outstanding since last year.

Francis cautioned that the UGWU and UGSSA would take its grievance off campus and seek sympathy from sister unions.

Against the background of poor sanitation, stray dogs that sometimes attack workers and other unsatisfactory conditions, the workers’ unions plan to ask for an Occupational Safety and Health assessment of the Turkeyen Campus.