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UG students likely to pressure administration over pay-dispute

University of Guyana students at a meeting last year on the issue of increased tuition fees

The University of Guyana Student Society (UGSS) has called for a meeting with the university’s student population in light of threats by academic and non-academic staff to delay the commencement of the semester as well as other issues.

This meeting may very well see the UGSS mobilizing students for actions against the administration of the University of Guyana (UG), the UGSS has said. 

In a communique which seemed sympathetic to the cause of UG staffers UGSS President, Joshua Griffith, told students that “staff members have made it clear to the University Administration their intent to take industrial action and students once again will inevitably bear the brunt of the consequences if these oppressed staff members do not receive justice.”

In an interview with Caribbean News Desk earlier this week Griffith noted that “every union has the right to industrial action and if they find their actions or their intent to be justified then so be it.”

There are several negative implications that can flow from the delayed start of the semester. “There is the concern about the delay of classes, how it is going to affect teaching, if this isgoing to lead to another removal of another semester break and that kind of stuff,” Griffith shared.

On Monday the University of Guyana Senior Staff Association (UGSSA) and the University of Guyana Workers Union (UGWU) promised to delay the recommencement of the coming semester unless the university’s administration agreed to cede to several demands, including the implementation of a 60% wage increase payable as of March month-end. Yesterday Vice Chancellor Jacob Opadeyi told Caribbean News Desk that he had responded to the unions’ demands and that he was confident that the semester would commence without delay.

Today though, the unions dismissed Opadeyi’s response as “woefully inadequate” and said that “barring further communication from the VC to accede to our demands by 4pm on Thursday January 22nd, 2015, industrial action will be taken to delay the new semester.”

Griffith says that the UGSS met with the unions and have expressed its concerns. “They responded saying that they are concerned as well. We asked if there is any way they can move forward without taking action if they would consider it. We also think the 60% is too much and we askedif they are willing to take a smaller amount,” Griffith shared. The UGSS will meet with the unions again on Friday to ascertain their posture going into next week.

Meanwhile, Griffith says the UGSS is dissatisfied with the administration on a range of other issues and he said the student body has not ruled out “taking firm action to show we are not in support of what is going on…were not opposed to taking action where our demands seemingly are not met or are taken for granted.”

In the communique he further said that “the administration has been given ample time to make good on their promises and has received sufficient cautionary advice from the body.”

Griffith says that the meeting with allow all students the opportunity “to express their concerns as well as offer solutions for the issues that we face.”

“At the end of the meeting a collective decision will be taken on what our next step will be as a student body. The absence of students will not serve to bring about any change on campus; our efforts are only as strong as our support system,” Griffith urged.