WE WON’T PAY: University rejects lecturers’ 11th hour $3,500 wage claim

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Deputy Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

THE Union of Tertiary Educators of The Bahamas is demanding a lump sum payout of $3,500 and a salary increase of seven percent for all of its faculty members - a new proposal the University of The Bahamas said yesterday it was not prepared to fulfil.

According to UB yesterday, their solution included immediately paying each member $1,000 and implementing increases ranging from two to six percent, while extending the top of the salary scales.

The university claimed that UTEB’s president Daniel Thompson initially proposed this and agreed to sign a contract formalisation on November 10, to which it agreed. However, the union then submitted a new proposal this week.

“The University of The Bahamas regrets the latest turn of events regarding the Union of Tertiary Educators of The Bahamas,” UB said in a statement yesterday. “The university has remained transparent in all discussions with executives of the union. It was agreed that since UTEB presented its financial counter proposal to the university after the board of trustees had approved the 2019-2020 budget, the union and the university would work together on arriving at a solution regarding financial compensation.

“The solution included paying each faculty member an immediate $1,000 lump sum and implementing increases ranging from two to six percent, while extending the top of the salary scales. This is what was proposed by the president of UTEB. The UTEB president also proposed a contract signing for November 10, 2019. The university agreed.

“Both sides also agreed that going forward with the next industrial agreement, all financial negotiations would be completed up front to allow for proper annual budgeting throughout the term of the new agreement; instead of waiting for the end of the contract negotiations to discuss finances, as has been the practice.”

UB also said: “The University of The Bahamas can no longer conduct business in the manner in which it operated in the past.

“There must be complete accountability at all levels and budgets must be strictly followed. The university is not able to meet these new demands of the Union of Tertiary Educators of The Bahamas; particularly given the anticipated expenses associated with restoring University of The Bahamas-North campus in Grand Bahama which was severely damaged by Hurricane Dorian. UTEB executives are fully aware of this.”

Yesterday, Mr Thompson said the university’s account of events was “full of inconsistencies and untruths”, adding he was disappointed that UB made public the union’s new proposal.

UB also accused the union of withholding faculty participation at key meetings that affected the holding of its academic senate.

“Prior to Thursday, October 31, the university and the executives of UTEB had arrived at an agreement. However, on Tuesday, November 5, some union members led by the executives, staged a demonstration and provided the public with erroneous information.

“On Wednesday, November 6, at 11.06 am, the president of UTEB issued a faculty-wide email reminding faculty that they were to abide by the following: non participation in school meetings; non-participation in department meetings; non-participation in Academic Senate meetings; and non-participation in faculty board meetings.

“So far, several university events have been affected and the UB Act mandated “Academic Senate” meeting had to be postponed because faculty senators did not attend.”

This is the latest development since UTEB staged a demonstration on Tuesday at UB’s main entrance.

The protest was sparked by faculty’s anger over UB’s proposal to offer them a meagre salary increase of 82 cent per day or roughly $300 per year.

UTEB said it was also angered by UB’s lack of urgency to finalise an industrial agreement that expired in 2017.

UB denied there had been delayed industrial agreement negotiations, insisting there were ongoing attempts to close the negotiation.