There appears to be discrimination against Dr Thakur
Stabroek News
March 16, 2004

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Dear Editor,

The name Dr. Rishi Thakur may not be that known in Guyana although Dr. Thakur has written a few letters over the years in the print media. Dr. Thakur is a colleague of mine at UG. That is what he is to me - a colleague. I would not say we are friends because we are not. We have a working collegial relation. He works at the Berbice campus and I do not normally see him. I haven't seen Dr. Thakur, I would say for more than a year now.

Dr. Thakur is seeking my intervention in a matter of discrimination against him at UG. I appreciate the recognition Dr. Thakur has given to me as someone who has an interest in human rights violations. I felt it was an obligation on my part to bring to the attention of readers his charge against the UG administration.

Before I do so, I would like to remind you that this is a lecturer who has taught for seven years at UG and has never penned an open complaint against the university. But as natural law and reason decline at UG, more voices are coming out to speak.

Had it not been for the exposure of Drs. Daljeet and Beharry, the people of this country would never have known about the non-existent labs at UG. The President, in declaring open the new Information Technology Centre, used the adjective "atrocious" to describe the labs at UG. He said his government would be allocating $600M for reconstruction of the labs.

Dr. Thakur is on sabbatical leave and has applied to teach at the Berbice campus. The Vice-Chancellor refused his request. Dr. Thakur told me he was extremely disappointed to find out that a lecturer junior to him in terms of both qualification and publication has applied to do the same thing - teach while on sabbatical at the Berbice campus and approval was given.

Dr. Thakur says that this is a blatant act of discrimination and he wants redress. I phoned the Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Dr. Mark Kirton under whose jurisdiction both Dr. Thakur and the other lecturer fall, to confirm what Dr. Thakur told me. Dr. Kirton said he can be quoted. He told me that indeed the other lecturer was awarded the very request that was denied to Dr. Thakur. Dr. Kirton opined that there should be a fixed standard.

Dr. Thakur has written to Dr. Prem Misir, the Pro-Chancellor and has given me permission to quote from his correspondence. He complained, "One of the sad consequences of the refusal of my application is that there appears to be no one else to teach the course GIA 414."

He went on to state that the students had to do without the required course and will have to do it next year. The integrity of the curriculum of the Berbice campus is compromised because the administrators run the University without respect for the rights of the employees. Dr. Thakur further complained that, "...there seems to be a case of making up the rules as we go along." So many past lecturers have attributed this very negativity to the way UG functions, now Dr. Thakur is the latest one.

I am a member of the executive of my union, and I am part of my union's negotiating team with the UG administrators. At our last meeting, I openly voiced my disgust at sitting down with my employers to get concessions from them for workers on matters that are enshrined as fundamental rights for workers.

Some of the most appalling violations of industrial rights are taking place at UG. Our union asked the TUC to intervene but the administration refused to negotiate with us while we have a member of the TUC leadership present. One example, is the adamant refusal to pay an ex-worker a sum that was won from arbitration with the Ministry of Labour. I told the meeting that I would not be returning to the negotiations with the UG administration because I refuse to accept the indignity of having to argue for rights that even in authoritarian countries are awarded to workers but not at UG.

I wrote the Vice-Chancellor on the Thakur issue and I brought to his attention the litany of complaints the Director of the Berbice campus has against the Turkeyen administration. I haven't received a reply. I plan to write the Council and the President. And I am taking the Thakur case to the Ethnic Relations Commission.

Yours faithfully,

Frederick Kissoon

Editor's note:

We are sending a copy of this letter to Dr James Rose, the Vice Chancellor at U.G. for any comments he may wish to make.