Staff at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) have voted in favour of industrial action against a planned merger with IT Carlow.
According to new legislation, any institute of technology seeking to be deemed as a technological university must first merge with another IT.
However, several branches of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland have now voted against the merger. Earlier this month, lecturers at Cork IT and IT Tralee voted 92 per cent and 86 per cent respectively in favour of industrial action and they have been joined by staff at WIT where 94 per cent voted in favour.
TUI assistant general secretary Aidan Kenny said the industrial action would be sequential, starting with non-cooperation with technological university activities, progressing to a work-to-rule and ultimately leading to strike action if the merger plans were not changed.
WIT had intended to merge with IT Carlow under an application for technological university status but pulled out of talks late last year.
In a statement Thursday, the TUI said: “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 The requirement to merge is part of the outdated cutbacks policy which seeks to make financial savings by the rationalisation of services, supports, provision and reductions in staff.”
It said the WIT branch considered “WIT should be given the opportunity to apply in its own right for university designation. The branch is also calling on the Government to urgently increase the funding to the institute and higher education sectors in general”.
The union added “for technological universities to function at university level, there will be a need for significant increases in the numbers of academic and research staff. This will require the Government to provide funding for the new technology university sector that is on par with the current funding for the universities”.