University of Guyana academic and non-academic staff on Monday kept their promise to embark on a “full blown” strike to force the institution’s administration to return to the negotiation table.
The resort to strike action followed Thursday night’s notification to the Senior Staff Association (UGSSA) and Workers Union (UGWU) by the Vice Chancellor, Professor Jacob Opadeyi that a pay offer was withdraw and negotiations called off unless the strike was called off.
But UGSSA President, Mellissa Ifill defended the unions’ position, saying that it was the university administration that was responsible for the collapse of the talks. “I would interpret that as a breakdown,” she said. UGWU President, Bruce Haynes added that “the pressure did not start with us, it started with the administration.” The Ministry of Labour has already said that the talks were being held under duress and so the now aborted talks could not be construed as having broken down.
The unions hope that before the end of the three-day strike, the talks for a 60 to 75 percent wage and salary hike would resume. “We anticipate or we expect that by the end of these three days we would have had some kind of conversation with the university or we anticipate either the Ministry of Labour or the president will intervene n the interest of the staff and students and the university as a whole,” she said.
With the industrial unrest entering its third week– two weeks as a sit-in strike— and the UG administration already warning that monies would be deducted from wages and salaries for loss of man hours, the unions said they have begun mobilizing strike-relief from the Caribbean, United States and Canada.
Ifill said rations were also being collected for distribution later this week.
Union executives have since met with UG workers at the Tain Campus and have identified two representatives to liaise with their colleagues at the Turkeyen Campus.