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University of Guyana workers to go on a “sit-in strike” from Monday

The staff of the University of Guyana (UG) will commence a sit-in strike from Monday January 26thto protest their unmet demands.

In release Friday the University of Guyana Senior Staff Association (UGSSA) and the University of Guyana Workers Union (UGWU) stated that “staff, including lecturers are expected to be present on campus at their desks or in the classrooms but will not be engaged in teaching and/or providing services.”

This action will delay the start of the second semester of the 2014/2015 academic year and is likely to trigger several other implications, providing that academic and non-academic staff participate.

In should be noted though, that workers represented by UGWU expressed this week concerns that academic staff may not participate in whatever strike action is agreed upon as they have done so in the past.

In the release which is signed by UGSSA President Melissa Ifill and UGWU President Bruce Haynes the unions say UG Vice Chancellor Jacob Opadeyi has been “notified” of “the impending industrial action at the university.”

The unions had threatened that they would strike from next Monday unless the VC and UG’s administration favorably responded to several demands, including a 60% wage-hike, duty-free concessions for academic and some-non-academic staffers and a 200% increase in travel allowances.

The VC responded to the unions on Tuesday but his response was dismissed by the unions as “woefully inadequate” after which it was iterated that Opadeyi had until 16:00hrs.yesterday to respond favorably. He has failed to do so.

“We have been suffering for a long time from starvation of wages and extremely poor and oftentimes dangerous working conditions. Notwithstanding the fact that we are grossly underpaid for the work we already do, we are now experiencing a dictatorial administration that seeks to impose even more work and duties upon us,” the unions complain.

Cognizant of the collateral damage their actions will cause the unions sough to point to that they“are aware of the possible implications of our actions on our students and the university as a whole. Our aim is not to make the students or the university suffer.” Staffers are asked in the release to “help our students to understand that we are simply insisting on better standards and conditions at the University which will be beneficial to them as well.”

UG’s unions have been in unsuccessful talks since the latter half of 2012 for a wage increase. “Just when we appeared to be making slow but somewhat promising progress in our wages and salaries negotiation, the Council intervened, cancelled a scheduled negotiation meeting and halted the process on the grounds that no remit was given and questioning the credentials of the UGSSA,” the release said.