Strike action by SIPTU members deferred pending new engagement with College

Talks with Trinity’s HR department sees agreement to postpone notice of strike until April, with parties due before WRC

Credit: William Murphy

The Trinity committee of the SIPTU trade union have agreed to defer the serving notice of strike action to College management until after a meeting scheduled to take place in April.

The decision comes in the wake of new talks between SIPTU, Unite, and the Human Resources department of College. In a press release Karl Byrne, SIPTU sector organiser for education, said that engagements and meetings “resulted in an undertaking by the Human Resources department to meaningfully engage on the issue of the replacement of permanent positions and the issuing of permanent contracts”. All parties in the dispute are to attend a “conciliation conference” at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) on April 11.

SIPTU are one of two unions representing Trinity’s non-academic workers to have voted in favour of strike action in recent weeks over the issue of phasing out permanent contracts and non-replacement of permanent staff. On March 10, the majority of members in both unions voted in favour of both general industrial action and strike action specifically, in two separate ballots. Speaking to Trinity News around the time of that result, Jack McGinley, head of SIPTU in Trinity, said that “there is a lot of clear blue sea between the parties”, though that there was an expectation of third-party involvement at that stage.

In an email, Cieran Perry, secretary of Unite in Trinity, said that he expected a similar deferral as that undertaken by SIPTU on the part of the other union. After the joint meeting between the two unions and College he said: “Both unions suggested they were willing to delay strike action if management engaged in meaningful and genuine discussions.” He continued to say that a decision would take place at the Local Committee meeting of Unite next Tuesday, March 28. Unite members voted in favour of industrial action up to and including strike action in a ballot on March 14, with 92% of votes favouring industrial action.
The developments come as the main union representing academic, administrative and library staff, the Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT) announced the intention to ballot members for strike action along the lines already pursued by the two non-academic unions. 

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.

Their 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.

Additional reporting by Daire O’Driscoll.