By Jomo Paul
[www.inewsguyana.com] – It was high drama at the University of Guyana (UG) on Monday, February 02 when a special meeting between students, workers and the administration convened at the George Walcott Lecture Theatre (GWLT) Turkeyen Campus.
Industrial action by UG workers is expected to continue after a meeting with the administration today left persons with more questions than answers.
However, a formal decision concerning the industrial action is expected to be made by the University of Guyana Workers Union (UGWU) and the University of Guyana Senior Staff Association (UGSSA).
Deputy Vice Chancellor of UG, Elizabeth Ramlall told the gathering that the administration of the University was recovering from running on a deficit and simply could not afford to pay the workers the increase demanded.
Since last week when the institution was expected to open its doors, workers downed tools saying they would not return to their jobs unless they were given a 60% salary increase.
Ramlall told a meeting that if the University were to issue any increases, it would mean that lecturers would have to contractually teach for 360 hours.
She admitted that indeed lecturers are the lowest paid in the region but said that local lecturers are working fewer amounts of hours. Ramlall reported that less than 48% of the lecturers spend less than 10 hours teaching per week.
“How can a lecturer with a University, full time lecturers spend less than ten hours teaching per week?” she questioned.
According to her, one of the plausible ways that UG would be able to fund the $1.8B salary increase to workers would be through a government subvention while another would be a stark increase in tuition fees.
However, students from UG out rightly rejected the notion of another increase in tuition fees asking what is being done with the monies from the most recent increase.
According to the President of the University of Guyana Student Society (UGSS) Joshua Griffith, all activities at UG will remain “prorogued” until the administration can address several pertinent and “basic” issues plaguing the faculty in conjunction with the demanded increase in salary for lecturers.
Among the demands made by the angry student body are for proper university facilities including upgraded washrooms and better WiFi facilities.
Several students voiced individual concerns which included the release of grades in a timely manner and shuttling furniture from building to building for classes.
After the meeting concluded, the students led a procession through the campus and proceeded to drape another black poster across a billboard.