In keeping with his word, Minister of Tertiary Education and Skills Training Fazal Karim has forwarded a $53 million cheque to the cash-strapped University of the West Indies (UWI) St Augustine, campus, as the first tranche in backpay to its staff.
The $53,945,733 cheque was sent from Karim's Port-of-Spain ministry to UWI's Principal Prof Clement Sankat on Tuesday, days after the impasse between the university and the West Indies Group of University Teachers (Wigut) which withheld students' grades in protest over campus administration's failure to pay outstanding backpay.The backpay was for the period August 2, 2011, to July 31, 2014.
The funds were released on Tuesday by Finance Minister Larry Howai to Karim, who in turn handed over the cheque to Sankat.Karim said the second and final tranche amounting to $33,054,267 million would be handed over to UWI in April, which would be reflected in May's salaries for workers.The two tranches would total $87 million, Karim said.
On January 19, Karim promised that Government would make a cash intervention in the wage dispute and would release funds to help the campus pay the monies owed, following days of on-going protest by students and staff on campus.Karim said Government had since honoured the first part of its commitment, days before the scheduled date.
"I have kept my word. I gave a commitment to pay the outstanding backpay and we have delivered on the first tranche way before its scheduled time."Karim said he was happy that the matter had been resolved between UWI's administration and Wigut.He said as far as he was aware students had received their grades and were attending classes."Things are back to normal," Karim said.