Moves by the administration of the University of Guyana (UG) to impose salary increases for this year have not found favour with the unions that represent the institution’s workers.
In fact, the unions have lashed out at the university’s administration, even calling its tactics “deeply disrespectful.”
Just recently the University of Guyana Senior Staff Association (UGSSA) and the University of Guyana Workers’ Union (UGWU), in a joint statement, expressed disappointment that the administration seemed unwilling to address the issue of salary increases. But the administration in a statement issued on Monday said that the institution’s Finance and General Purpose Committee on Wednesday last 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 and will translate to a three percent pay increase for academic staff [UA] while support staff [UB] will be eligible for a four percent increase. The pay increase, the administration said will be retroactive to January 1, 2018.
But the unions fired back, claiming that not only are the imposed increases a violation of good labour relations practices but that “some might say that arrogance and hypocrisy are displayed in this action.”
The unions’ move to highlight this state of affairs is linked to the fact that the pay increase for workers will be conditional, as according to the Vice Chancellor, “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.”
Added to this, the unions are concerned that staffers are being asked to accept a “minuscule unilateral increase on the grounds of affordability.”
The unions further highlighted that the administration has made it clear that the percentage increases for workers was approved based on affordability but went on to note that when Vice Chancellor Griffith asked for the award of his second bonus of the year (since a first was awarded earlier in the year for 2016-2017), affordability was not taken into consideration.
“With the assistance of the Chancellor he was finally given that bonus at the Annual Business Meeting of the University on Thursday 8th November 2018. He fought for his bonus while resisting an objective assessment of his performance,” the unions asserted.
According to the unions too, “The administration has refused to negotiate wages and salaries with the unions, going so far as to fail to attend a conciliation meeting requested by the Unions. This meeting was scheduled by the Department of Labour for 25th October 2018, and the Unions showed up, but the administration never did.”
The unions have, moreover, noted, “The administration should be assured that the University’s staff will respond to this insulting development,” even as it emphasised that “The Coalition government has been clear that salary increases should be negotiated and not imposed, as has been the case in the past.”