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Striking UG workers not paid for February

University of Guyana (UG) staffers who are currently on strike have not been paid for the month of February.

The university’s full-time academic and non-academic staff members are usually paid on the third Thursday of every month but last Thursday, when they were scheduled to receive payment, many found that there was no money to be had.

President of the University of Guyana Workers Union (UGWU), Bruce Haynes, who explained that the majority of the university’s staffers were affected by this action, shared this evening that the decision to withhold salaries was made by Vice Chancellor (VC) Jacob Opadeyi. He says he learned that the necessary documentation to facilitate payment to all staffers had been prepared, but was altered on the instruction of Opadeyi so that striking staffers would not be paid this month.

Melissa Ifill, President of the University of Guyana Senior Staff Association (UGSSA), too confirmed that striking staffers have not been paid.

Both Ifill and Haynes say that staffers who returned to work soon after supporting the various forms of industrial action undertaken since the commencement of the semester have been paid.

There are also reports that some persons have been paid reduced salaries, based on the days they would have supported the calls to for either the sit-in or the full-blown strike. One staff member, who asked to remain anonymous, has said that he had two days’ pay deducted from his salary this month as he had stayed away from work for as many days.

Academic and non-academic staffers have undertaken various forms of industrial action, including sit-ins, protests and marches, since the commencement of semester two of the 2014/2015 academic year on January 26th. Their actions are aimed at pressing the university’s administration to increase their wages. The staffers, through the UGSSA and the UGWU are calling for a 60% wage-hike, along with other benefit, although they have indicated the willingness to accept a lesser, reasonable amount.

Negotiations had commenced between the unions and UG’s administration, after much wrangling, but broke down before long. Currently, the administration is asking the staff to return to work before any further negotiations take place, while the unions hold the position that a favourable wage-offer must be made before staffers return to work.

Meanwhile, classes at the university are occurring in a disjointed fashion and, with the fourth week of the semester about to commence, most classes are yet to commence. The University of Guyana Student Society (UGSS) on Friday, for the second time this semester, barricaded the university’s entrances, its President, Joshua Griffith, saying no classes will take place until all classes commence. In the absence of an agreement over the weekend that sees the recommencement of all classes in the coming week similar action was taken on Tuesday