Results row resolved

End result: students and their leaders (including WITSU president Cathy Pembroke, third right) protesting at Waterford IT’s College Street campus on Wednesday.               | PHOTO: GAVIN DOWNEY

End result: students and their leaders (including WITSU president Cathy Pembroke, third right) protesting at Waterford IT’s College Street campus on Wednesday. | PHOTO: GAVIN DOWNEY

After more than 3,000 students staged midweek protests in Waterford, seething over the “senseless stand-off” between lecturers and management at WIT, lecturers last night balloted to belatedly release Christmas exam results.

After week-long talks, a deal was agreed between Institute management and lecturers’ union, the TUI, who have been at loggerheads over payments for correcting papers.

The upshot is that over 10,000 full- and part-time students are still waiting on marks from semester-1 exams held in December.

Both parties are meeting again this morning to make arrangements to get results out to students as soon as possible, in co-operation with the Students’ Union.

WITSU President Cathy Pembroke confirmed: “We are delighted to announce that the dispute is over following a ballot of TUI members last night.”

It’s understood the agreement includes the withdrawal of lecturers’ threat to take industrial action on the basis that WIT will enter into further negotiations on the issue. It’s believed that any further difficulties will be referred to the Labour Relations Commission.

The breakthrough came after students gathered at the Institute’s Cork Road and Good Shepherd campuses on Wednesday to demand their overdue results (which they should have received on Tuesday) and hear Irish Students’ Union President Peter Mannion condemn the money-driven dispute.

The wrangle became public last week after the TUI condemned WIT management for imposing a retrospective 50 percent reduction in the monies their members normally get for marking scripts.

These ‘customary’ payments, which the TU said were “slashed” without consultation and backdated to last summer, are on top of lecturers’ basic salaries, which range from €39,000 to €104,000.

The college authorities said they were merely bringing the payments, which Waterford lecturers have received for the past five years, into line with their counterparts in other ITs around the country.

Many of those waiting for their end-of-semester results are final-year students looking to secure employment or Masters placements. Others are obviously keen to know their progress.

Cathy Pembroke said on Wednesday that they’d made “repeated attempts” to get both sides to engage and find a resolution to what she described as “this senseless standoff”.

It was “completely unacceptable” that students should be used as pawns in a quarrel not of their making, she said, calling on the parties “to sit down and agree a resolution to this juvenile dispute. This level of immaturity would not be tolerated of our students. The longer this situation is allowed to continue, the more damage will be done to the image and reputation of both the Institution and lecturing staff,” she warned.

Lecturers last week overwhelmingly endorsed industrial action, with the matter having already been referred to the Labour Relations Commission by the Institute.

The TUI confirmed its members had agreed not to turn in results, draft future exams, or mark future exams until WIT honours a nationally-agreed Grievance Procedure.

The lecturers lobby had argued several other areas of non-essential spending at the Institute should be looked at first if cuts were to be made.

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