UG Administration refutes claims by Unions

25th November, 2018 0 comments

The decision of the University of Guyana Finance and General Purposes Committee (F&GPC) to approve salary increases at the rate of 3% for all eligible UA staff and 4% for all eligible UB staff, retroactive to January 1, 2018 at its meeting on November 14, 2018 was unanimous. It must be pointed out that the President of the University of Guyana Workers Union (UGWU) participated in that F&GPC meeting.

The University of Guyana Administration has always adopted an “open door” approach in relation to the Unions. In that regard, the Administration and the Unions commenced a process as early as February 28, 2018, to arrive at a mutually acceptable agenda for the negotiations between the Parties. The Unions advised on May 1, 2018 that they were desirous of having negotiations relating to salary increase and benefits for 2018 and that anything else would be discussed after agreement on those matters. The Administration requested that the agenda for the negotiations also include the conclusion of a Collective Bargaining Agreement, because no Collective Bargaining Agreement was made since 1976.

The Administration also insisted on the inclusion of the matter of performance. Indeed, matters other than salaries were contemplated since 2017. The Letter of Understanding signed in November 2017 with the University of Guyana Senior Staff Association (UGSSA), which was one of two documents signed with that Union, the other being the Memorandum of Understanding, named a comprehensive job evaluation exercise and a Performance Management System as matters to be dealt with by both sides. A significant aspect of the Administration’s pursuit of the matter of performance relates to improving the service experience of students as regards the timely submission of scripts and grades.

In the email engagement between the Parties, the Unions proposed conditionalities in respect of the composition of the Administration’s Negotiation Team. They insisted on the exclusion of both the Personnel Officer and the Chief of Staff from the Administration’s team. These conditionalities were rejected by the Administration. These officers were part of the 2017 negotiating team, over which there were no complaints. In addition, this demand represents a violation of a cardinal rule of negotiation: that each party determines the composition of its team.

The Unions next proceeded to seek the intervention of the Ministry of Labour without formally informing the Administration of their intention to refer the impasse to the Ministry of Labour for conciliation. The Administration was invited by the Ministry of Labour to a conciliation meeting, and declined the invitation, indicating that there was no impasse as the negotiation did not move beyond differences over the Agenda. The Administration also noted that especially given the absence of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which would outline matters of dispute resolution, the step of conciliation must be agreed upon by the relevant parties.

The salary adjustment proposed by the UG Administration, and which was approved unanimously by the F&GPC, was made in the context of what is affordable, mindful of the necessity to balance the 2018 budget. It also is to be noted that the bonus to the Vice-Chancellor is a contractual matter between the Council and the Vice-Chancellor and has nothing to do with the salary negotiations or the salary increases.

The stated salary increases were made without prejudice to any subsequent negotiation, which means that they can possibly be adjusted once the negotiations get underway. The Administration reiterates that its doors are always open for discussions with the Unions.


UG IN BRIEF With a current enrollment of some 8,000 students, The University of Guyana (UG) has graduated more than 20,000 students who have gone on to successful careers locally, regionally and internationally. The University is also a major contributor to the national economy and to business and industry. Established in 1963 on a part-time basis with shared space at Queens College, UG moved to its own campus at Turkeyen in 1970 and expanded in 2000 with the addition of the Tain Campus. It now offers more 116 under-graduate and post-graduate Programmes including the Natural Sciences, Engineering, Environmental Studies, Forestry, Urban Planning and Management, Tourism Studies, Education, Creative Arts, Economics, Law, Medicine, Business, Optometry and Nursing. Several online programmes are available and The UG also offers extra-mural classes at four locations through its Institute of Distance and Continuing Education (IDCE). The UG also offers the opportunity for student engagement in debating, sports, and cultural, religious and professional activities.

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November 23, 2018

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