The Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) has decided to ballot for strike action among its members in February. The planned ballot is in response to proposed new government legislation, which TUI perceives as detrimental to the institute of technology sector.
This development comes in addition to the TUI strike planned for February 3 over what it has described as chronic issues of underfunding in third level education, the increase in student numbers while staffing numbers decrease and the unstable employment status of many lecturers.
The ballot for strike action is over the government’s Technological Universities Bill, released in December, which requires institutes of technology to merge before applying for university status.
The strike will concern 4,000 lectures and researchers in institutes of technology around the country.
TUI president Gerry Quinn has said that he is critically concerned about the potential consequences of the Bill, “given the current crisis of underfunding, understaffing and precarious employment in the institutes.”
According to Quinn: “Between 2008 and 2015, funding for the sector was cut by a massive 35%, or €190 million. Over the same time period, lecturer numbers fell by 9.5% (535), while student numbers rose by a staggering 32% (21,411).”
The TUI believes that no academic considerations have been made for the merger of institutes. Mergers will impact the individual values, ethos and missions of institutes, they said.
The TUI also said on Friday that the Technological Universities Bill contains “significant threats to the institute of technology sector and to the working conditions of the academic staff” and that legislation was “being rushed through the enactment process with reckless haste and without the provision of adequate opportunity for the deep and considered engagement and debate that is required.”
The union has stated that it will withdraw from all talks on mergers with immediate effect.