Staff in UCC threaten strike action

Academic staff in UCC have threatened to strike over attempts to impose changes to terms for new and promoted staff.

A new standard contract, which was proposed by management, was circulated before Christmas to unions, including the Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT) which represents almost 400 staff members at the college.

However, when they met last week members gave IFUT officers authority to call a ballot for action up to strike level if the college presses ahead with implementing these un-negotiated changes.

One of the arguments up for dispute is stipulations that an employee’s work location can be moved, including elsewhere in Ireland or abroad, and without payment of compensation.

General Secretary for the IFUT, Mike Jennings said the contracts showed little regard for academic freedom and declared where and what hours a person shall work without the usual consultation with staff representatives.

“If contracts like this are issued, it could be the thin end of the wedge and management may eventually try to apply these conditions to all staff,” he said.

The organising union, SIPTU, has also brought forward objections on behalf of more than 1,000 members at UCC, including academic, clerical, administrative, and technical staff.

Mr Jennings added that reduced numbers of academic staff are already teaching ever-increasing numbers of students.

SIPTU also added that small numbers of revised contracts already issuing to new employees or to existing staff moving grades or promoted in recent months.

“If management have a plan to change any terms and conditions of our members, or the grades we represent, they need to talk to us first,” said SIPTU official Bill Mulcahy.

“Everybody is flexible and we all know that jobs change and evolve. But nobody should accept being told they are suddenly expected to do something very different without consultation” Mulcahy explained in a recent article in the Irish Examiner.

UCC declined to comment on any proposed action when contacted by The College View.

Sharron Lynskey

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