Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) members at Waterford and Carlow Institutes of Technology have voted in favour of industrial action, citing a ‘lack of engagement’ from management at both ITs regarding the pending application for Technological University (TU) status.
In a joint statement released on Monday, both TUI spokespersons said the action had won “overwhelming support” less than two weeks before WIT and ITC is due to submit its TU application.
However, WIT President, Professor Willie Donnelly said that management were “fully aware of the TUI’s proposed actions and fully committed to work with the union to come to a resolution”.
According to Prof Donnelly: “Waterford Institute of Technology and Institute of Technology Carlow have been working collectively on an application for Technological University. We have made a submission to the Higher Education Authority to support the development of an application for and to support the release of unions’ members from their normal workload to engage in the TU development process.”
He concluded: “At a staff information session at the start of the academic year I publicly stated my commitment to ensure that all staff have an opportunity to help shape the new TU environment. I remain committed to that view.” The TUI’s branch officers in both ITs said a lack of “engagement, information and consultation” in the TU process had led to this action.
Said WIT’s TUI Branch Secretary Kathleen Moore: “To date we as academic staff representatives have not had one single meeting with our management to inform us about these plans or to consult with us about any aspect that this new entity, a Technological University, is supposed to take. This is not acceptable to our members.”
This sentiment was echoed her TUI counterpart at ITC, Claus Derenda.
“A similar process in Dublin for DIT, Tallaght and Blanchardstown who have recently submitted a successful TU application involved a meaningful information and consultation process with academic staff representatives that culminated in an agreement between staff and management before the TU application was made. A merger of WIT and IT Carlow requires a similar process of engagement for a successful application.”City & County Councillor Eamon Quinlan (FF), who is currently a student at WIT, said he is in favour of the move from staff.
“I’d have to welcome the staff and lecturers drawing a line in the sand at this merger, which hasn’t been fleshed out and with little clue as to the benefits it will bring to lecturers and students,” he contended. “Staff at WIT have not received assurances that the current immaculate level of services, which have helped to build WIT as a quality IT, will be maintained after a merger and I’m pleased to see Carlow IT staff joining them on this. This appears to be more of a box-ticking exercise by the Government without the necessary thought and planning.”