UTech staff suspend strike
After a week-long strike that saw members of the University of Technology Academic Staff Union (UTASU) staying off the job, the union has temporarily halted industrial action, having accepted an invitation from the management of the university to join them in attending a meeting with the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service on Friday.
The meeting is being held to facilitate discussions between the university management and the finance ministry on the Government’s subvention to the institution.
Last week, UTASU members went on strike, demanding that the salary adjustments outlined in the 2015-17 heads of agreement signed in April 2017 by the university management and the education and finance ministries be implemented.
This followed earlier action by students and staff of the Papine-based institution, who staged a protest at the entrance to the university’s campus on February 20, criticising the Government for what they described as chronic underfunding compared to other tertiary institutions.
The failure of the university to implement the salary adjustment was also being protested.
That same day, the management of the university and UTASU sat with representatives from the Ministry of Education.
Following the meeting, UTech President Stephen Vasciannie told The Gleaner that the university was awaiting the results of a staff-verification exercise by the Ministry of Finance, which the institution hopes will press home its need for an increase in the subvention provided annually by the Government.
UTech receives a subvention of approximately $2.1 billion annually, which is predicated on a staff establishment of 608 members. The university is requesting that the subvention be increased to $4.97 billion to reflect the current staff complement of 1,440.
The institution had previously indicated that a subvention increase would put it in a position to implement the salary adjustments outlined in the latest heads of agreement.