A financial audit may be soon underway at the University of Guyana. This comes in wake of a request for this undertaking by the unions of the institution – the University of Guyana Workers Union and the University of Guyana Senior Staff Association.
In the statement disseminated by the media, it was revealed that the Ministry of Education, in a recent letter to the UG Council, advised of the unions’ joint request to have the Auditor General’s Office conduct a special audit of the University’s finances.
In commenting on this development, Vice Chancellor, Professor Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith, said, “The Administration welcomes the opportunity to clear the air on the allegations and assertions by the unions and other individuals.”
He added, “We have long indicated such, both directly to the UG Unions and in my two recent memoranda to the University community.”
According to information released by the institution too, in January 2019, the Administration told the two unions that the institution was not in a position to pay further salary increases for 2018, having paid a four percent salary increase to academic staff and three percent to non-academic staff, both tax-free, in December 2018.
It was further noted that on February 13, 2019, in an update to the members of the UG community on the industrial climate at Turkeyen and the call by the Unions for a forensic financial audit, the Vice Chancellor said that the Administration is willing to have its financial position examined by any competent and independent Arbiter.
Following the Unions resumption of picketing at Turkeyen on March 15, Vice Chancellor Griffith, in a further update to the UG community, reiterated the Administration’s willingness to have an audit done by an independent Arbiter. He also indicated that the Administration had decided to turn the dispute over to the Labour Department for conciliation.
The current impasse follows the initiative by Pro-Chancellor, Major General (Ret.) Joseph Singh, to facilitate some “Listening Sessions” with the Unions and the Administration by a three-member panel of the University Council, and the Vice-Chancellor’s March 8 invitation to meet with the Unions to resume the negotiations proved futile.
However, the UG Administration said that it holds the view that talks with the unions should not focus exclusively on salaries but performance and a Collective Bargaining Agreement should also be discussed.
Meanwhile, the Administration said that it is awaiting a response from the unions to its weeks-old request for several documents as part of efforts to be consistent in the pursuit of accountability and transparency. The documents sought include their Articles of Association, Certificates of Recognition, Statements of Income and Expenditure for recent years, and recent Annual Returns and audited statements.