University of Guyana Workers Unions are calling for the Vice Chancellor, Professor Ivelaw Griffith and Pro-Chancellor, Joe Singh to resign, contending that their performances over the past few years have been dismal.
The Vice Chancellor’s contract will come to an end on June 13, 2019.
At a meeting convened by the University Council, headed by the Pro-Chancellor on April 15, a decision was taken to have the Vice Chancellor proceed on the routine end of contract leave.
This decision was made in view of the University’s current financial situation, the absence of any circumstance that requires the Vice Chancellor’s presence and it also respected long-standing procedures of the University with regard to no payment in lieu of leave for all staff.
However, the Pro-Chancellor has reportedly given directives for the Council to reverse its decision so that the Vice Chancellor could be paid in lieu of leave.
According to Presidents of the University of Guyana Workers Union (UGWU) and the University of Guyana Senior Staff Association (UGSSA), Bruce Haynes and Dr Jewel Thomas, Singh has guided the Council in a direction that is not in the interests of Guyana’s sole national University.
The Unions noted that to reverse the decision would place the University, which is already undergoing austerity, in even graver financial and legal jeopardy. According to Thomas, the budget of the University is presently stretched thin.
“It is very clear, that the only way in which payment is entertained in the University’s regulations for staff which stipulates under what circumstances you are permitted to make the request and the fact that you ask does not mean that you will get it. And we only pay in lieu of leave outside of those determined circumstances when the University says that it requires you to remain at work. There was no such compelling reasons on the part of the University advanced either within the Vice Chancellor’s letter or by the Pro-Chancellor in any kind of supporting documentation. All that was said in the circumstances was that this is the VC’s letter and the Pro-Chancellor said I support it…None of the reasons advanced in the letter had to do with the University of Guyana, they were entirely to do with the needs of the VC,” Dr Thomas argued.
The University is undergoing financial constraints which will potentially affect the University’s teaching and learning, Thomas related.
Being aware of this, the Union Head noted her disappointment with the VC’s request and the support being given to the said request by the Pro-Chancellor.
“We ended up having to do this round robin thing under very constraint circumstances, as a result of the round robin, the Pro-Chancellor declared that seven was a majority of 16 and on that basis, a communication was written to the Vice Chancellor which he has taken to mean that he stays in office. At this point in time, we are not sure what the situation is with regard to the pay in lieu of leave” Thomas revealed.
Thomas went on to voice the Unions’ frustrations with this new development at the hands of the VC since he is the highest paid principal the University has ever seen.
Thomas claimed that VC Griffith, upon taking up the post, has since demanded a new vehicle, an increase of allowance which is equivalent to a ministerial level, a credit card, an expense of the University and bonuses.
The Union President noted that the University of Guyana cannot afford the Vice Chancellor.
The UGSSA President observed that the situation cannot and should not be allowed to continue.
According to the University of Guyana Workers Union (UGWU), under the leadership of the VC and Pro-Chancellor, the University of Guyana has deteriorated.
“You have hundreds of students and staff on campus and all of them using the same facilitates and, therefore, you would understand when you go into the washroom and you see human beings like yourself doing the same things that you don’t want to do and it’s not going to look good, so since it would have escalated into an occupational health crisis which is not fair to allow people who would have left their homes and that particular aspect of their lives is well controlled to come to a place where they believe that the condition would have been the same or even better but it’s not,” Bruce Haynes remarked.
As such, the Unions are calling on all staff and students to adopt a stance of non-cooperation with any policy directive, request or instruction emanating from the Vice Chancellor since they consider the decision of the Council meeting of April 15 to be both proper and justified.