TCD Lecturers break with Croke Park Agreement

By Aoife Mullen

Negotiations relating to the Croke Park Agreement have been put on hold by The Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT), following compulsory redundancies made in Trinity College.

Two lecturers represented by the union were made involuntarily redundant last year while another union member from the library staff was also issued a notice of dismissal.

All three members of staff were long serving and on contracts of indefinite duration (CIDs).

According to Trinity College’s student newspaper, ‘The University Times’, both lecturers had been members of staff for more than 10 years.

In a statement on IFUT’s website, Mike Jennings, General Secretary of IFUT, said: “last year IFUT members, with considerable reluctance, voted to endorse the Croke Park Agreement following detailed clarifications from the Department of Education as to how its provisions would apply in the university sector.

“The authorities in TCD have, in spectacular fashion, broken this agreement. No party to an agreement could be expected to continue to honour it when the other party so blatantly welshes on their commitments.”

The Croke Park Agreement was a deal between the government and public sector unions, including IFUT.

IFUT agreed to be involved in the agreement after clarifying the implications of the documents with the Department of Education last year. IFUT initially did not sign up because of the document’s ‘loose wording’.

One of the main agreements was the government’s promise not to serve permanent public sector staff with notices of compulsory redundancy. CIDs, according to previous labour court rulings and employment guidelines, are permanent contracts.

Following the redundancies,  Head of the School for Social Policy, Eoin O’Sullivan, emailed the school’s staff members to inform them he and his predecessor had repeatedly told staff that CIDS were permanent because this was what Trinity College had told them.

The dispute will be investigated by the Labour Court in March, at IFUT’s request.  According to ‘The University Times’, IFUT are expected to argue that the college was obliged to provide an alternative position to permanent staff should their current position expire.

Trinity College may attempt to draw a distinction between permanent contracts inside the university.

Until the dispute has been dealt with, Jennings said: “IFUT is putting its participation in Croke Park on hold.”

 

 

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