A second trade union representing non-academic staff in Trinity has voted in favour of industrial action up to and including strike action. 92% of Unite trade union members voted in favour of industrial action, with a turnout of 73%.
The prospect of industrial action has been increasing for a number of months, with the unions and College in dispute over changes to hiring, promotion, and pension policies.
Secretary of Unite in Trinity, Cieran Perry, told Trinity News that the current plan is for College and the unions to re-engage in talks in an effort of reaching agreement. In an email, Perry said: “Today’s result gives us a clear mandate from our members for strike action if necessary and we will have no hesitation in pursuing this option if management aren’t willing to genuinely engage with Unite.”
Speaking to Trinity News, a spokesperson for College said: “The University has offered to meet further with the unions on the matter in advance of the follow up Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) conciliation conference scheduled for early April.”
The decision follows a similar result in a ballot held by SIPTU members last week, with 72% voting in favour of strike action, and 90% in favour of industrial action in a general sense.
Staff are unhappy with what they see as management “diktat” in changes to promotion and hiring policies, with permanent positions being replaced by fixed-term contracts of varying lengths. According to a Unite “morale survey” conducted late last year, high percentages of union members are unhappy with, and have little faith in, current management policy
Speaking to Trinity News after the previous SIPTU result, College spokesperson Tom Molloy said that College “continues to talk to officials on a regular basis. We hope for a satisfactory outcome. We have not been notified as of yet of any possible action by the union and I hope it won’t come to that”.
In a statement to Trinity News, Unite’s committee chairperson in Trinity, David Grouse said: “The result in favour of industrial action, and the turnout indicate the level of anger among Unite members. Support and service staff have made it clear that they will not allow management attack their working terms and conditions without a significant response. We are always available to meet with management to discuss the issues causing this dispute and we call on them to genuinely attempt to resolve these issues”.
Speaking to Trinity News, Perry said that the intention was for both Unite and SIPTU to move forward in a united manner. However, speaking before the announcement of the SIPTU result, Jack McGinley, chair of SIPTU in Trinity, said that before any strike takes place, the union would “expect a third party intervention, but there is a lot of clear blue sea between the parties”.
He added: “While SIPTU is supporting an increased spend on higher education in the Cassells Report, not until some greater accountability is enshrined into legislation, and greater oversight into institutions whose corporate governance is way below par and whose employment practices mirror some of the worst excesses of crony capitalism.”