Dundalk IT staff vote for industrial action by record margin
Staff at DkIT have voted by 99.1% to 0.9% to engage in industrial action in a dispute which they describe as ‘the failure of DKIT’s President’s Office and Institute Administration to adhere to national collective agreements, respect industrial relations mechanisms and engage in transparent and meaningful consultation on a range of issues.’
Frustration has been building for months regarding the Institute’s strategic future.
While staff overwhelmingly support an immediate move toward Technological University status, staff representatives claim the DkIT President’s Office has gone to extraordinary lengths to prevent discussion of the Technological University topic in Academic forums.
A statement from the staff’s union said: “With Limerick and Athlone IT’s recent announcement they would be combining to seek Technological University status, DkIT is now effectively the only Institute of Technology not moving towards University status. Recent requests from the TUI for consultation on the Institute’s strategic future have received no response from senior management.
“However, it was the emergence of a new plan to establish a 5th school within DkIT that prompted the recent ballot. The 5th school plan, developed by Senior Administrators without consultation with staff, intends to dispense with academic Quality Assurance practices and oversight, and introduce what the TUI describe as ‘a high cost / low quality model of education provision, which is totally at odds with the traditional mission of the IoT sector to provide high quality and affordable education accessible to all.”
Dundalk IT TUI Branch Chair Kenneth Sloane commented: “IoTs have established and agreed practices for allowing innovation and development to occur so that Institutions like DkIT can continue to serve the changing educational, economic and social needs of people and enterprises in our region and beyond.
“These practices are embodied in a range of local and national agreements and forums usually characterised by a cooperative approach between management and staff where progress is achieved through discussion, consensus and agreement.
“Unfortunately under the current President of DkIT staff have experienced an increasingly autocratic and dysfunctional administrative approach which has attempted to suppress open discussion and replace our traditional collaborative way of doing business with a culture of ill-conceived unilateral dictates, of which this 5th school plan is just one instance, and which is in breach of both national and local agreements. As management have not withdrawn this plan and are in fact planning to proceed with it, our members had no option but to ballot for industrial action.
“A 99.1% ballot in favour of industrial action based on a 81% turnout of members is quite unprecedented, and illustrates the determination of DkIT’s staff to not only demand a return by management to industrial relations norms and adherence to agreements, but also reveals the levels of concern regarding the Institute’s strategic future, which staff believe management has placed in jeopardy by their continuing failure to engage in the Technological University process, thereby risking the prospect of the North East becoming the only region in the country without a University campus of its own.”