News Releases

UWI St. Augustine Campus Principal says union must be sensitive to studentsí rights

For Release Upon Receipt - December 8, 2010

St. Augustine

Principal and Pro Vice Chancellor of the St. Augustine Campus of The University of the West Indies (UWI), Prof Clement Sankat has issued an appeal to members of the Administrative and Technical Services Staff (ATSS) of the protesting Oilfields Workers Trade Union (OWTU) to show greater sensitivity to students who are currently undergoing examinations.

“This has been a trying time for everyone involved in the bargaining process,” said Prof Sankat, “but the students are not involved in this process, and it is unjust and unfair that they should have their already stressful examinations disrupted by the noisy disturbances from protesting staff members.”

Prof Sankat is asking the Union Members to exercise more restraint in their protest actions, which had hitherto been confined to protest marches around the Campus, but which recently targeted students at their examination venues.

For two consecutive days (Monday 6 and Tuesday 7 December) examinations were disrupted by loud demonstrations outside the venues.

“While the University respects the rights of union members to stage protests, the union must also respect the rights of students to undergo their examinations, stressful as they are, without additional trauma, and especially as our students have in no way contributed to this situation.”

Prof Sankat indicated that the negotiations between The UWI and the OWTU are continuing, with the University having sought a new remit from the Government following a meeting on December 3. “The Senior Management of the Campus continues to act in good faith in these ongoing negotiations and it is therefore most disturbing that the union’s actions have targeted our students sitting examinations,” he said.

“The unfairness of the situation is that the University itself has no discretion to negotiate beyond the remit given by the Government. We are conduits for this negotiation, so to traumatise our students, is misguided and unacceptable,” he said.

Prof Sankat noted that “within recent times, the University was financially penalized for acting outside its role as a go-between Unions and Government and, additionally given its own financial challenges, it is no position to go beyond the Government’s remit. Still, our senior management team will continue to act in good faith and keep these negotiations going, trying as they are, and would like to see the union doing the same.” 

In the meantime the Campus is seeking to put in place greater security around our examination venues to mitigate the effects of any disturbances that may continue to occur. 


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About UWI

Over the last six decades, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged University with over 40,000 students. Today, UWI is the largest and most longstanding higher education provider in the English-speaking Caribbean, with main campuses in Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, and Centres in Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, The Bahamas, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Christopher (St Kitts) & Nevis, St Lucia, and St Vincent & the Grenadines. UWI recently launched its Open Campus, a virtual campus with over 50 physical site locations across the region, serving over 20 countries in the English-speaking Caribbean. UWI is an international university with faculty and students from over 40 countries and collaborative links with over 60 universities around the world. Through its seven Faculties, UWI offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Pure & Applied Sciences, Science and Agriculture, and Social Sciences.