A three percent pay increase has been approved for academic staff [UA] of the University of Guyana [UG] while support staff [UB] will be eligible for a four percent increase. The pay increase will be retroactive to January 1, 2018.
This is according to information released by the university’s public relations department which yesterday revealed that the institution’s Finance and General Purpose Committee on Wednesday unanimously approved the request of Vice Chancellor, Professor Ivelaw Griffith, for the salary increases.
These increases, it was disclosed, will be paid to staff members of the university by December 20, 2018.
“Considering the increases granted for 2017, this makes the combined increase over two years nine percent for UA staff and 12 percent for UB workers,” the university informed.
In fact, according to Vice-Chancellor Griffith, “although the 2018 negotiations with the unions never moved beyond differences over the agenda, I felt obliged to act on what we had planned all along to do; that is, to offer a salary increase for 2018.”
He further emphasized that, “the Administration maintains the principled position that performance will be a factor in this exercise, and that no academic staff with outstanding grades will be granted the increase.”
As with previous salary increases, the university noted that this salary adjustment requires finding money for the allowances that are pegged to salaries. For example, housing allowances are tied to salaries at the rate of 20 percent.
Overall, the adjustment this year will cost the University G$81.34 million. The Vice-Chancellor noted that while the percentage increase is modest, it is guided by the principle of affordability, adding that G$81.34 million is what the university can afford at this time.
Additionally, the increase is granted knowing that there is an understandable expectation by staff members for some form of financial relief for the year.
Slated to benefit from the salary increase are those in Estates Management, the Faculties and School of Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation, the Registry, Library, Bursary, Centre for Information Technology, Software Development, Personnel, Institute of Distance and Continuing Education, Safety and Security, Berbice Campus, and the Vice-Chancellery, which includes the offices of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor.
Vice Chancellor Griffith commended the staffers for their dedicated service to students and the university community even as he highlighted the University’s 52nd Convocation held on Saturday last, where 1,739 students graduated. The event, according to the Vice Chancellor, is one that evidenced the nature of the institution’s truly talented and caring members who go beyond the call of duty in their various units.
However, the move to increase the salary of workers came on the heels of a joint statement issued by the university’s workers’ unions.
Earlier this week, the unions expressed concerns on a number of issues which included but were not limited to the university’s finances and its violations of multiple statues and procedures.
In a joint statement issued by the two unions it was emphasised that “The University of Guyana administration has brought the University to the brink of another crisis as it refuses to engage the University Unions on issues of deep importance to workers.”
The unions, headed by Dr. Jewel Thomas [UGSSA] and Mr. Bruce Haynes [UGWU], said that they have been attempting to negotiate with the administration on a range of matters since February 2018 but these have gone nowhere.
The unions had pointed out that after negotiations with the administration stalled because of the failure to agree on an agenda, the unions took the matter to the Ministry of Social Protection’s Department of Labour in August 2018. However, the administration did not agree to a conciliation meeting scheduled for October 25, 2018, but instead informed the Department that the negotiations were not stalled. Moreover, the unions said that they were forced to supply written evidence to the Department of Labour regarding the lack of progress in the negotiations.
According to the unions too, they had jointly observed that the administration is failing to provide the University’s Council with clear and straightforward information about the state of the University’s finances. The unions have therefore theorised that “This perhaps explains their reluctance to engage in negotiations with the Unions about matters which involve money, since they would have to reveal the University’s true financial situation.”
In fact the unions claimed to be of the firm belief that the administration has been trying to prevent the Council from hearing about the ways in which it has been violating the University’s statutes and procedures, and in the process opening up the institution to claims of discrimination.
The unions said that they were even more worried that their concerns were not included in the agenda at the University’s Annual Business Meeting which was held two Thursdays ago. It was highlighted that the Unions’ previous attempt to have Council discuss these concerns at an Extraordinary meeting on October 3, 2018, was thwarted when the Vice Chancellor left to deal with an ‘emergency’ and asked that they not be discussed in his absence.
From all indications the university administration, in order to prove the unions wrong, moved days later to approve the pay increase for workers.
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