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Resumption of UG pay talks hangs in the balance

Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 January 2015, 11:30 by GxMedia

UG Workers at one of their several meetings to discuss their grievances.

University of Guyana (UG) Vice Chancellor Jacob Opadeyi has scheduled an extraordinary Council meeting for Friday on the second day of a staff sit-in andthreats from the students to picket the Pro-Chancellor’s office.

Student society president Joshua Griffith in a release Tuesday said Opadeyi approved the meeting on a request from the UGSS. However, the VC has declined to comment on the meeting’s agenda.

The workers’unions say the sit-in will continue with UG Senior Staff Association (UGSSA) President Melissa Ifill telling Caribbean News DeskTuesday night that whether it rolls over to next week depends on if Opadeyi is able to receive the remit of the Council to recommence negotiations with the unions.

“We will continue until the remit is received. We do not know that when the VC takes the matter to Council that he will actually get the remit. We hope he does, he seems confident that he will, but we are not going to pre-judge the decision of the Council.”

In a letter to the unions on Monday, Opadeyi had proposed to have the UG Workers Union negotiateon behalf of both unions since the university’s administration now refuses to recognise the UGSSA. He had also stated in a release that “negotiations will resume in two weeks after the university’s administration would have received a remit from Council.”

However, the bodies rejected the single union proposal since the university has historically negotiated with the UGSSAand it was decided that the sit-in would last the two weeks if that was how long it took to convene the Council. Industrial action will also continue until the VC receives the remit to negotiate.

The UGSS wrote Opadeyi following a public consultation with the student populace Monday afternoon wherefirst-year Student-at-Law Adel Lilly proposedthat prodding the Council to act was the surest way of ending the sit-in. The UGSS had been contemplating taking action against the university’s administration but Lilly pointed out that the administration could not act without the Council’s approval.

He suggested the UGSS write Opadeyi immediately, requesting that he convene a Council meeting by Wednesday with a failure on his part to do so to attract picketing.

The office of incoming Pro-ChancellorBibiShaddick was to be the target for the picketing exercise had Opadeyi not responded positively by Tuesday.In an interview with Caribbean News DeskGriffith said the purpose of Friday’s meeting should be twofold.

“We would like the demands of the lecturers to be upheld or dealt with so that they can return to work as per normal. This includes but are not limited to a withdrawal of the workload policy from the Council,” Griffith explained. The UGSS also wants the Council to grant Opadeyi the remit to recommence negotiations with both workers’ unions.

Wednesday marks the end of phase one of the unions’ industrial action. During a meeting last week it was decided that further industrial action beyond Wednesday would depend on whether the administration responded favorably to demands for, among other things, a 60 percent wage increase.