Academic staff to ballot on industrial action in coming days

The Irish Federation of University Teachers call for strike action after exhausting “all possible avenues”

The Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT), the union representing academic, administrative and library staff , is to ballot members for strike action. On March 21, members of the Trinity College Branch Executive of IFUT, met to discuss disputes with College management surrounding the refusal to award permanent contracts to staff in administrative, library and support grades.

The decision to ballot for strike action has come after the Chairperson of the Trinity Branch, John Walsh, and Secretary, Dermot Frost, said they had “exhausted all possible avenues to resolve this issue to [IFUT’s] satisfaction”. Two separate votes will be held with ballots being circulated to affected staff in the coming days. The first vote concerns sanctioning strike action with the second sanctioning non-strike industrial action only.

Secretary General of IFUT, Mike Jennings, warned last year that strike action may be the only means available to third-level academic staff to ensure their long term survival. Speaking at IFUT’s annual conference in May 2016, Jennings said that academics were being expected to exist behind a “lace curtain of hidden poverty while the government and Department of Education promoted the illusion that all was well in the sector”. Jennings asserted that some staff were living on salaries of just €5,000 per annum and found themselves in precarious short-term contracts with no job security.

Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) President Kieran McNulty told Trinity News that TCDSU would be meeting with union representatives in the coming days and would release a statement following that. He noted however that he had told Student Council that he would be engaging with unions and was supported in doing so.