Unions representing workers at the University of Guyana are furious at the way the university is being run and are calling for the resignations of Vice Chancellor Ivelaw Griffith and Pro-Chancellor Joseph Singh.
The University of Guyana Senior Staff Association, represented by Jewel Thomas, and University Council representative Bruce Haynes spoke out against the management of the University at a press conference Friday.
“There has been a determined resistance by the Vice Chancellor to any idea of looking at his performance,” said Thomas
“He’s done several things that are in violation of the universities statues that the Council has ignored.
“The statutes are the university’s laws and there must be some kind of reprimand for the VC’s actions,” Thomas added.
She said the university is in a state where the Vice Chancellor does whatever he wants with no regard or respect for any system of accountability.
Representatives of Unions the U.G Chancellery have been at odds over issues relating to financial transparency, unhealthy spending habits and other issues.
“We call upon the council of the University of Guyana to stand by the decision made at the properly convened meeting of council on the 15th April to allow the Vice Chancellor to proceed on routine end of contract leave; this was the correct decision given the University’s current financial situation,” Thomas stated. The Vice Chancellor’s contract expires on the 13th of June.
There have been concerns about the benefits the Vice Chancellor receives, including a new SUV vehicle, strictly Business Class flights, gratuity, and two bonuses in the year 2018.
The University also pays for the maintenance of the Vice Chancellor’s housing and maintenance, along with staff for his home.
The Vice Chancellor is also being paid the highest recorded salary in history for a university.
The union representatives claim that they will take various actions against the VC and Pro-Chancellor.
According to a statement from the University, at a meeting of the University Council held on April 15, 2019, the subject of the treatment of theVice-Chancellor’s leave was considered and the Council agreed that the Vice-Chancellor should be formally requested to proceed on leave with effect from May 13, 2019.
Subsequently, on May 2, Vice-Chancellor Professor Ivelaw Griffith, wrote to the Pro-Chancellor requesting reconsideration of the Council’s decision of April 15, 2019, citing among other things that, “extenuating circumstances” oblige him to forgo proceeding on leave effective from that date and requested to be paid for “30 of the 35 days” due to him.
Following the Vice-Chancellor’s request, Pro-Chancellor Major General (retd) Joseph Singh, who is also interim chairman of the University Council, requested a review of the Council’s decision by round robin of all members of the Council and members were also asked to indicate their support or otherwise of the Vice-Chancellor’s request for payment of a portion of his leave entitlement.
According to Pro-Chancellor, “It is my understanding that the round-robin practice has been in place over the years and has been utilised by Council and other Statutory Organs of the university, therefore, it should not be interpreted as a special dispensation for the incumbent Vice-Chancellor”.
Thirteen Council members participated in the process, with seven members supporting the Vice-Chancellor’srequest, four members felt that the matter should be deliberated upon at an Extra Ordinary Meeting of the Council, one member was opposed to the Vice-Chancellor’s request and one member felt that a meeting of the Council should be duly convened, while three members did not participate as of May 10, 2019.
The Vice-Chancellor and Council members were duly informed by the Secretary of the Council on May 10 that a clear majority of members had approved his request of May 2, 2019. Council members were also informed that the amount of pay in lieu of leave the Vice-Chancellor was entitled to would be based on the advice of the Bursar andPersonnel Officer.
In a statement, the Pro Chancellor urged the Unions to “Be responsible and ensure that the administration of our final examinations are not disrupted.
I urge that our students, the primary stakeholders, be accorded the highestpriority in this season of Examinations.”