UWI campus set for shutdown
- UWI campus set for shutdown
By Anna-Lisa Paul
Saturday, January 22nd 2005
The planned shutdown of the St Augustine campus of the University of
the West Indies remains in force as the wage impasse remained
Minister of Science, Technology and Tertiary Education, Colm Imbert,
said yesterday he was hopeful that by midweek next week he should
have an enhanced offer to present to the West Indian Group of
University Teachers (WIGUT) as salary negotiations continue for the
period 2002 - 2005.
The WIGUT membership is planning to withhold their services on Monday
at the campus, and as a result, operations are expected to grind to a
Negotiations started since January 2004 and WIGUT said when it did
not receive any feedback from the minister before Christmas, it was
decided that go-slow action would be implemented and staff would
withhold their enthusiasm. They have since refused to release the
results of last term's semester to the students.
WIGUT had originally asked for a 30 per cent increase in salaries,
which was rejected by the Public Sector Negotiating Committee (PSNC),
who later offered a 15 per cent increase-an offer WIGUT rejected.
Senior Assistant Registrar and Human Resources Manager at UWI, Hollis
Nicholas, told reporters on Thursday that the university was hoping
to get the PSNC to agree to a 16 per cent salary increase- which he
was confident would help to break the impasse.
However, WIGUT president Vishnudat Singh said yesterday that "while
16 per cent will help to break the impasse, it will not necessarily
lead to a resolution". Singh promised that action would be ongoing if
no decision is arrived at by next week.
Speaking with the Express later in Parliament, Imbert explained that
while one per cent seemed to be a little extra, it would in fact
place a burden on the Treasury, as the one per cent would total
between $40 and $60 million.
This is in addition to the $450 million UWI has been allocated for
this fiscal year, he said. Imbert said he had requested that the PSNC
consider enhancing the other benefits such as the travelling and
housing allowances being offered to WIGUT.
"I expect some movement by next week ... not necessarily in the
percentage increase, but in other benefits so that negotiations can
begin and I an fairly confident that we should be able to get a
settlement in the near future," he added.
When contacted by Express to find out whether WIGUT would abort the
planned shutdown of the campus on Monday in light of the explanation
by Imbert, Singh replied: "No, we will be going ahead with Black
He admitted being aware of the suggestion for enhanced benefits, but
said until there was written correspondence, the union would employ
industrial action as past promises had not materialised.
WIGUT met yesterday with university officials for almost one hour,
but no resolution was arrived at. While some staff members heeded the
call yesterday to wear something red, many students said they
believed the staff deserved the salary increases and were well within
their rights to employ whatever industrial action they thought