UWI, Mona students jittery as lecturers threaten industrial action
STUDENTS at The University of the West Indies, Mona campus are now worried as they face possible industrial action by academic and senior administrative staff starting on Friday.
The academic and senior administrative staff, represented by the Jamaica chapter of the West Indies Group of University Teachers, announced days ago that they are prepared to begin industrial action over demands for the payment of interim pay increases, while a compensation review takes place.
The industrial action would include the withholding of marks; not attending meetings; not uploading course materials; not holding academic advising meetings; not providing systems support unless an emergency situation arises; and not providing learning support.
Reacting to the threat of a disruption on the campus when classes are scheduled to resume on January 22, several final-year students of the university on Wednesday told the Jamaica Observer that they wanted the matter settled quickly.
According to one student, while the action being considered by the university’s staff is understandable, withholding students’ grades is not the way to go as this will significantly affect their efforts to register for classes for the next semester.
“A lot of students have struggled to pay for tuition, to pay for rent, accommodation on a whole. It’s rough. So for lecturers to hold on to grades and interfere with the registration process for these students, I’d say that’s unfair,” said the student, who asked not to be named.
Another student pointed to the potential disruption the industrial action could have on the upcoming semester.
“What’s going to happen to our classes? It is a concerning matter [and it] needs to be dealt with immediately. Classes have not started yet and already there are problems, so what’s going to happen when the semester officially begins,” said the female student, who also requested that her name be withheld.
With similar concerns from fellow students, a colleague told the Observer that she is not surprised at the indication that the new semester could be disrupted.
“Nothing…that happens at the university shocks me any more. They always do this at this time of the year. It is not the first time something like this has been put out. Since recently, in many different ways, the university has been behaving like a [proverbial] ‘patty shop’. I am not surprised to be honest,” declared the student.
While her colleagues were mainly worried about the smooth start of the semester one radical student was adamant that the Government should not increase the salaries of her lecturers.
According to the militant student, the lecturers need to raise their work ethic before demanding a pay raise
“Personally I think most of the lecturers are very lazy. They act as if they do not want to see students graduate or as though they weren’t a student at a point in their life. They are hard to reach. The school’s course evaluation is supposed to be the voice of the students and until they start applying it and evaluate these lecturers accordingly, then there won’t be much of a reason to strike,” said the student.