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UG workers marching to Georgetown on Monday as strike heads for “long haul”

The Chief Labour Officer’s Office, Brickdam, Georgetown.

In the face of the refusal by the University of Guyana (UG) administration to resume pay negotiations unless a now three-week old industrial action is called off, workers plan to Monday march to the City to pressure the authorities to broker a deal.

President of the Senior Staff Association (UGSSA), Dr. Mellissa Ifill said her organisation and the Workers Union (UGWU) were willing to accept either a reasonable or interim offer to call off the strike.

Ever since UG Vice Chancellor, Professor Jacob Opadeyi called off the talks and withdrew an offer of 5% percent in the first year and 10% percent each in 2015 and 2016, the talks have stalled. The unions had intended to demand 25% percent annually over a three-year period, representing an increase in their original demand of 60%.

In an update to worker and the media, she that in an effort to “pursue all avenues to resolve this crisis,” talks have been held twice with two Deputy Vice Chancellors but the UG administration has refused to budge. “Both meetings however bore no fruit as the University’s position hadn’t changed – we are still being asked return before negotiations can commence with an outer limit of June 30 proposed for the conclusion of negotiations. We could only reject that proposal,” she said.

Students, under the umbrella of the Students Society (UGSS), want classes to resume without delay because they “are operating in an atmosphere of extreme uncertainty.”

The unions have also rejected a formal back-to-work call and recommencement of negotiations by the Ministry of Labour’s Chief Labour Officer, Charles Ogle on the grounds that the administration’s word cannot be taken. Ogle has promised to conciliate if the talks break down.

However, the unions have argued that the talks collapsed ever since the Vice Chancellor pulled the plug two weeks ago.

The route for the march, which begins on Monday, February 16, 2015 at 9 AM is:

   1.      North along Turkeyen Road from UG gate to the Railway Embankment Road;

  1. West along the Railway Embankment Road to Sheriff Street;
  2. South along Sheriff Street to Sandy Babb Street;
  3. West along Sandy Babb Street to Vlissingen Road;
  4. South along Vlissengen Road to Brickdam;
  5. West along Brickdam to Manget Place (Weslyan Bible College).

Opadeyi is on record as saying that lecturers are unfairly demanding more pay although they lecture very few hours per week and do not conduct research.

In an effort to first bring relief to measly paid non-academic staff, the unions have started mobilising resources to offer support “as this crisis appears headed for a long haul.”

Ifill reported that more than 110 food hampers have been distributed to staff and will continue distribution on Tuesday.An Online ‘go fund me’ account has been set up (see link http://www.gofundme.com/UGACTION ). Staff members were asked to share that link and our bank account details listed below to all those in their email and social media networks so that those who wish to monetarily support our cause can do so.

Acct no: 654-084-3.
Bank Name: Republic Bank Guyana Limited.
Bank Address: 38-40 Water Street Robbstown, Georgetown Guyana.
Tel: 592 226 4091.
Swift Code – RBBGLGYGG