WIT lecturers prepared to go on strike

Almost 95 per cent of the academic and research staff at WIT who took part in a Teachers’ Union of Ireland ballot for industrial action in the case of a forced merger with IT Carlow are prepared to strike during the academic year.

Sixty four per cent of WIT’s TUI branch voted in last week’s ballot – 269 out of the branch’s 424 members – and 94.05% of them gave an ‘overwhelming mandate’ to engage in industrial action if the Government pushes through the merger, according to the TUI.

“The result is unambiguous and shows that members are opposed to the requirement that institutes should have to merge in order to apply for technological university status”, commented TUI spokesperson Aidan Kenny.

“Lecturers believe that there is absolutely no academic rationale for forced mergers. The requirement to merge is part of the outdated cutbacks policy which seeks to make financial savings by the rationalisation of services, supports, provision and reductions in staff.”

The branch has reiterated its call on the Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan to remove the requirement to merge from the draft legislation relating to the Heads of Bill General Scheme Technological University 2014 so that WIT can apply in its own right for university designation.

It’s also demanding a funding increase to the institute and higher education sectors in general.

Reacting to news of the ballot, Independent TD John Halligan hit out at the Government for ploughing ‘relentlessly ahead’ with a forced merger between Waterford Institute of Technology and IT Carlow despite no confidence in the plan amongst academic and research staff.

“The concerns being expressed by lecturers at WIT are very real and they are very valid”, Deputy Halligan commented. “There is no doubt that rationalisation will result in reduced course provision in both institutes, which will have a serious knock-on effect not only for staff but also current and future students and the wider Waterford community.”

“The creation of a South East Technological University has been bounced around like a political football by this Government since it came into office. If Minister O’Sullivan is genuinely committed to improving the provision of education in Waterford, she needs to sit down and listen – really listen – to the concerns of staff on the ground.”

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