The financial management of the University of Guyana, (UG) is being brought into question by several lecturers and employees attached to the institution. So dire are the concerns over UG’s spending, that employees staged a picketing exercise in calls for an independent audit of the books.
During a picketing exercise on Monday at the Turkeyen Campus, members and executives of University of Guyana Workers Union (UGWU) and University of Guyana Senior Staff Association (UGSSA) told the media of their concerns.
“UG is spending monies which are not accounted for. The University is paying for accommodation, food and travel of experts, but fails to provide proof of how the monies are expended or whether these persons are actual experts.
“We believe that there is some level of misappropriation as it relates to the finances and we want to see some scrutiny. So, instead of wasting monies on lavish dinner parties, talks, lectures, first class flights, and high-priced hotels, we believe that the University could divert some of the funds to address the inhumane conditions, staff and students are subjected to work under,” a staffer attached to the university stated
President of the UGSSA, Jewel Thomas told members of the media that the funds could be plugged into an area that is most needed. She pointed to a need of developing the teaching space.
“We need adequate furniture and teaching materials. Instead, we are seeing expenditure in areas that we don’t consider a priority,” UGSSA President said.
She noted too that the call for this audit has stemmed from the inability of the University to provide an increase in teachers’ salaries beyond three and four per cent, because the University “cannot afford it”.
“The response came saying that they really don’t have any more money for 2018 [to pay] wages and salaries, but they would sit and negotiate the other things, i.e. the uniform allowances, etc.,” Thomas highlighted.
“Why are we going to sit and discuss anything with you if you say you have no money?” We need to have a look at what is going on with the university’s finances.”
Meanwhile, the Chief Labour Officer, who manages the Labour Department within the Ministry of Social Protection, convened conciliation proceedings between the administration of the University of Guyana and representatives of the University Unions yesterday.
In a statement, the Labour Department noted that the issue addressed an impasse, which was recently developed with respect to the 2018 wages and salaries negotiations involving the parties.
“The Chief Labour Officer (CLO) initiated the conciliation process after the Unions by a correspondence dated February 9, 2019 notified the University of its intention to “engage in various forms of industrial action during the week beginning Monday, February 11, 2019.
The Unions made good on their threat by staging a picketing exercise at the Turkeyen Campus during the lunch period on Monday, February 11, 2019.
Since it was possible that the industrial action was likely to be intensified, the CLO decided to intervene in keeping with provisions of the Labour Act, Chapter 98:01, and in the interest of industrial stability.”
During the conciliation meeting, the University Administration indicated its willingness to co-operate with the Ministry and facilitate the Conciliation process.
“It is worthy to note that the CLO pointed out that in keeping with standard industrial relations practice, the threats of various industrial actions must be withdrawn as a prerequisite for cordial discussion, and negotiations in good faith.
While the Unions did not give a commitment to withdraw the threat, they promised to consult with their members and advise the Ministry of Social Protection in writing on February 13, 2019 (today) on the way forward.”
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