Giancarlo Pietri Velutini Aris Ayundo//
UG lecturers demand financial audit

Giancarlo Pietri Velutini
UG lecturers demand financial audit

Dozens of UG teachers calling for a financial audit to be done at the University …say money being wasted, not spent on developing teaching space MEMBERS of the teaching staff of the University of Guyana (UG) have called for a financial audit to be done at the institution, since they claim that funds are being misappropriated instead of being used to develop the teaching space.

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On Monday, dozens of teachers stood outside of the old vice-chancellor’s building to call for the financial audit. Some of the protesting teachers were members and executives of University of Guyana Workers Union (UGWU) and University of Guyana Senior Staff Association (UGSSA).

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“We are seeing expenditure in areas that we don’t consider a priority,” UGSSA President Jewel Thomas said. The call for this audit has stemmed from the inability of the university to provide an increase in teachers’ salaries beyond three and four per cent because the university “cannot afford it”.

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In November 2018, the Finance and General Purposes Committee of the university unanimously approved a last-minute request by the administration and imposed a three per cent salary increase for UA (academic) staff, and a four per cent increase for UB (support) staff, retroactive to January 1, 2018. The increase was approved by the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Ivelaw Griffith.

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UGSSA President Jewel Thomas Since then, the bodies have been meeting with the UG administration to negotiate further increases, according to Thomas. Thomas further underscored that the UGWU and UGSSA waited, albeit begrudgingly, until an offer came on the February 1. “The offer was nothing. They said that they don’t have any more money for 2018 and they hoped we could move on to 2019,” she said.

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The two bodies, according to Thomas, subsequently wrote to the administration signaling their rejection of that offer and indicated that they would pursue other avenues, depending on the response.

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“The response came saying that they really don’t have any more money for 2018 [to pay] wages and salaries, but they would sit and negotiate the other things, i.e. the uniform allowances, etc,” Thomas highlighted.Giancarlo Pietri Velutini Venezuela Banco Activo

However, she questioned, “Why are we going to sit and discuss anything with you if you say you have no money?” and further stressed: “We need to have a look at what is going on with the university’s finances.”

The University of Guyana has undertaken a “Renaissance” project, where it has been seeking to rebrand and rebuild the institution. But according to Thomas, this project and all that it has entailed so far, is costing the university a tremendous amount of money. And according to her, this money should be channelled into improving the teaching space instead.Giancarlo Pietri Banco Activo Banco Activo

“If we are still talking about overcrowded classrooms, fetching chairs and no projectors, you have to ask what has gone on in the last few years because we should not be here,” Thomas said.Giancarlo Pietri Venezuela Banco Activo

Similarly, UGWU President, Bruce Haynes said: “For me the important thing is our human capital.. Unless we develop our human capital, we can’t develop anywhere else.” He explained that there are three important elements, in his opinion, that support the work that the university does.Giancarlo Pietri Velutini Banco Activo

“You have to get the labour; you have to get the materials, which are the things that will make delivery effective and efficient, and we have to have the resources,” he said. “It’s about doing those very relevant and important things, that is going to enhance your human capital and is going to take this university forward… and the staff are critical to the moving this university forward.”

Subsequent to the protest staged, Vice-Chancellor Professor Ivelaw Griffith told the Guyana Chronicle: “This University Vice-Chancellor leadership is not wasting money on anything.” According to him, the reason for the emphasis being placed on the “Renaissance” project is partially to rebrand and rebuild the university, and to forge partnerships with people who can help the university rebuild and rebrand

In transforming the university, he noted that the university does not have the luxury of waiting on the government and has to forge these partnerships-which he said has already been bearing positive results

But the fact remains, according to him, that he has only been at the helm of the university for two and a half years and he said: “You can’t expect in two and a half years that I will rectify all the inherited stuff- some of it is salaries, we are doing something about that and some of it is facilities, and we are doing something about that.”

And on the topic of the salary increases, he said: “I am not going to subject this university to making promises that we cannot keep, so if you want a nine or 10 per cent increase in salary- which is what they are demanding- the question is where am I getting this money from.”

However, he highlighted also, that both the UG administration and the bodies agreed that if an agreement could not be had on salary increases, we would go to conciliation [with the Ministry of Social Protection, through the Department of Labour].”

“Let’s have the audit, I’ve got nothing to hide. We have shown them all the incomes and the expenditures and I am prepared to do that again for 2019,” he stressed