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Breakaway UG student faction blocks Turkeyen Campus’ main gate

A few of the students blocking the main gate to the University of Guyana’s Turkeyen Campus.

Police were Wednesday morning again preparing to remove a barricade set up in front of the University of Guyana’s (UG) main entrance at Turkeyen by a breakaway faction of the students who insist on unrelenting pressure to force the administration and the unions to reach a pay-deal and pave the way for the full resumption of classes.

The grouping-which includes Belizean, Barbadian and Jamaican students- want Caribbean Community (Caricom) leaders at their summit on Thursday in The Bahamas to help find a way to resolve the dispute now in its fifth week. “…all of them who can do something about this issue to intervene and let good sense and reason prevail and to reach a solution as soon as possible because if this goes into the sixth week I foresee a shutting down of the university for this semester and that will affect everyone,” he said.

Final year law student, Belizean Glenfield Dennison told police that he and others at the gate were now in charge of the protest, not the Students Society (UGSS) President, Joshua Griffith and other executive members. Dennison and his colleagues refused to remove the barriers which they reinforced in the presence of the lawmen.

He explained to Demerara Waves Online News that when the students blocked the gate last Friday, they had collectively vowed to keep up the pressure until the full resumption of classes. “To my mind that means that the people who are at a stalemate need to negotiate. They need to come to a solution to this problem and they need to get the staff back on campus so that the students can have classes,” he said, adding that students have paid tuition fees and deserve classes.

He said the Law Students would be particularly affected because applications that have been dispatched by final year students to the Hugh Wooding and Norman Manley Law Schools and would depend on the completion of the Degree and the sending out of transcripts. Reflecting on the fate of the First Year Law Degree students, he noted that their exams are tied to the University of the West Indies (UWI). “All campuses sit the exam simultaneously so UWI is not concerned about whether or not we had classes for the first five weeks,” he said.

Dennison confirmed that his group is one of a number of factions in the student body- opposed to blocking the gate, others sit idly by and others who are active. “I have taken a position as a foreign student that this has to end. I have paid for an education and the school is required to provide me with one and so I have taken the position that I will continuously lock the gate so other members of the UGSS who wish not to do that , that’s on them, come and move me,” he said.

The Workers Union (UGWU) and Senior Staff Association (UGSSA) first want the UG administration to formally commit to paying a 10 percent increase in wages and salaries before returning to the bargaining table for additional increases in pay and allowances. The unions want a 60 percent pay-hike.