Months of uncertainty have finally come to an end with the University of Guyana Workers Union (UGWU) agreeing to accept an offer of a retroactive eight per cent salary increase for staff on the campus.
The agreement came after a protracted period of negotiations and the intervention of the Guyana Trade Union Congress. According to the particulars of the MoU, the 8 per cent offer caters for full and part-time support staff.
Retroactive to January 2017, the salary adjustments and retroactive payments will be reflected in the payroll for November 2017. The Memorandum of Understanding was signed by UG Vice Chancellor Professor Ivelaw Griffith, while Bruce Haynes affixed his signature on behalf of the UG Workers Union.
In a statement on the issue, Griffith said the increases were not the university’s only financial obligation. Griffith noted that the university still has to fund an average of 4.5 per cent merit award, as well as allowances for travelling, entertainment, uniforms and academic materials.
He also listed other expenses on the university’s plate, such as study and sabbatical leave, leave passage, and duty allowances for coordinators, heads and deans.
In the past, the UG Unions had refused to sign a similar MoU on ground that it contained stipulations against lecturers who did not submit grades.
The UG administration had issued an ultimatum of six and eight per cent to the unions, but refused to divulge details of the final offer, along with a breakdown, when requested. This had caused the negotiations to become deadlocked, with little or no effort on the part of the administration to move the process along.
From the inception The unions had requested that senior members of the administration be excluded from the negotiations, since their salaries were above the maximum of the regular pay scales. However, the administration has been insistent that they would be paid as part of this process.
“The administration has repeatedly removed from the agreement any clause that made it absolutely clear that members of the senior administration cannot be paid any part of the increase. The Vice Chancellor has also refused to even discuss the possibility of including the breakdowns we requested. He has said, after publicly touting his belief in ‘transparency’, that he will not be giving any more information about the details of the offer,” a statement from the unions had said.
The unions had also maintained that the Vice Chancellor was attempting to use staff performance as a distraction, to “cover up what appears to be the sheer greed of demanding the same percentage salary increase as persons earning far less than those senior members of administration.”
For his part, however, Professor Griffith hailed the MoU in his statement as the start of a new system where performance goes hand in hand with payment. According to Griffith, it would mark the start of a “new normal.”
“I am delighted that we are able to close this chapter and begin paying the increases,” he stated.