An accumulative salary hike of $182 million has been offered to the staff of the University of Guyana [UG]. But the unions [the University of Guyana Senior Staff Association (UGSSA) and the University of Guyana Workers’ Union (UGWU)] that represent the staff of the university are not readily accepting the conditions that come with the offer.
The representatives of the unions are not prepared to ink an agreement that demands, among other things, that performance be a determining factor. The unions are concerned that the administration seems unwilling to share a detailed breakdown of its offer.
In a joint statement, the unions headed by Dr. Jewel Thomas [UGSSA] and Mr. Bruce Haynes [UGWU], revealed that at a meeting on Tuesday the unions were able to discuss what is currently known of the administration’s offer to staff.
“Staff agreed that the only obstacles in the way of the agreement are the administration’s steadfast refusal to share a detailed breakdown of the $182M that it has stated will be used to pay the offer and the administration’s abrupt re-introduction of a demand that performance should be part of the agreement,” the statement outlined.
The unions have moreover noted that “the administration has not honoured all requests by the Unions for financial and other information.”
It was revealed by the unions that “the administration in a letter dated September 20  agreed that it would allow the matter of salary increases for officers to be decided by the Council and implied [but did not state] that they were not included in the final costing of the offer to staff.”
In the statement, too, it was noted that the unions’ last email to the administration on Friday, September 22, 2017, asked for the numbers that would confirm the implication of the exclusion of members of the senior administration.
But according to the unions, the administration refused to provide the breakdown of the $182M.
“At last Wednesday’s [September 27] meeting with Executives from both Unions, the Vice Chancellor said that the administration had done enough and nothing further would be provided,” the statement outlined.
“The Personnel Officer, when asked, said that an email would be sent to confirm this [that no further information would be given].” But according to the unions, a correspondence to this effect is yet to be seen.
“We are interested in the details because during the negotiations, the figure of $181M was named as the sum to give ‘all staff’ an increase of six percent. When we queried what was meant by all staff, it was clarified that it meant everyone, including the seven persons who are not on the pay scales.
“After the adjusted offer was made of eight percent to UB staff and six percent to UA staff, we were told that this adjustment moved the total to $182M. We are meant to believe that paying two percent more to UB staff and at the same time excluding the senior staff would cost $1M more,” the statement outlined.
But according to the unions, such a deduction is simply not possible given the figures that have previously been provided.
“We have calculated that if $182M were to be paid solely to UA and UB staff, catering for all the payments that have to be made of the various allowances, pensions, and NIS, it would allow for a higher offer to be made to staff.”
Because of the foregoing, the unions are convinced that the administration of the union is reluctant to share the breakdown of the offer it has made.
“If they share it, they reveal their intention to nonetheless hold part of the amount for themselves, with or without Council sanction,” the unions have concluded.
Also troubling to the union is that the administration has refused to provide any details about spending priorities for the rest of year, when this information was requested.
“The Vice Chancellor’s reference to performance being included as an element of the agreement also indicates the administration’s lack of seriousness as participant in the negotiations. The Unions have stated since January 2017 that performance could not be included in these negotiations,” the unions have asserted.
They have moreover expressed concern that the administration has made repeated attempts to introduce this tactic into the negotiations thereby “acting as if it can be a weapon to force staff to agree to their demands.”
“We reject such tactics. Performance cannot be part of any agreement for 2017 wages and salaries. We have made our positions clear, and acted straightforwardly and transparently throughout this process,” the unions have stated.
The unions have further noted that “Today our members agreed that we are prepared to sign an agreement that honours our long-held principles.”
As such it has been underscored that “the percentages named are not the obstacle, since we are prepared to accept them. It is up to the administration to live up to the Vice Chancellor’s much talked about stance on transparency and produce an agreement that the staff will find satisfactory.”
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