Lecturers and researchers of Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT) are set to undertake a one-day strike on Tuesday, November 19, as announced by the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) last night.
99.1% of staff voted in favour of this strike in a union ballot, in opposition to the colleges’ strategic plan that is planned to run from 2020-2022. The TUI have announced a mandate for potential additional industrial action in the future.
DkIT’s new strategic plan has caused tension in the college, and it has been widely criticised by staff. Two main issues have received criticism from the union: the planned 5th academic “school”, and DkIT’s failure to move towards the status as a Technological University.
The introduction of a 5th academic “school” was a plan that TUI claims was introduced “unilaterally and without consultation”. They further argue that this school would bring a “’high cost/low quality’ model of education provision”, that is against the ethos of DkIT of providing good quality, affordable, and accessible third level education.
The union also state that DkIT have ignored all staff support in favour of the designation of the institute as a Technological University – as they are one of two institutes in the country that have not made the change of status. TUI claims that, in not doing so, DkIT are “running the risk of leaving the institute isolated and vulnerable… to the detriment of the communities and region that DkIT serves.”
Union members also argue that leaders of DkIT have tried to “suppress open discussion in the Institute’s forums”, and are becoming “autocratic” in their management.
DkIT have officially expressed disappointment in the TUI and staff’s choice of industrial action, as it claims to have extensively consulted the union throughout the entire planning process for the future direction of the institute, through “more than 25 discussion sessions with internal and external stakeholders”. They maintain that staff were involved in “the exploration of all viable designation options available for DkIT including Technological University”.
DkIT further state that “the purpose of this consultation process is to ensure that the full implications of all designation options are comprehended and are appropriately considered for adoption of otherwise within an overall Institute Strategic Plan 2020-2020.”
The spokesperson said that DkIT will continue to “seek structured engagement and consultation with members” of staff and of the union, notably regarding the “issues raised in their recent statement”.