Tuesday 12 December 2017

College lecturers to strike over 'demotion' proposals

Marc MacSharry. Picture: Tom Burke
Marc MacSharry. Picture: Tom Burke

Greg Harkin

Lecturers have voted to strike over proposals to rename then "university teachers" as part of a merger.

More than 1,500 students at St Angela's College in Sligo will be affected after staff reacted angrily to the proposed "demotion" in a 'Heads of Agreement' deal as the college plans its merger with NUI Galway.

Lecturers would not face any salary cuts as part of the merger, but would lose status in the profession, the Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI) said.

Fifty members of the academic staff at the Sligo campus, which specialises in home economics and nursing sciences, voted by 94pc for the one-day strike on March 10, with further dates planned.

St Angela's College president Dr Anne Tahenny described the proposed strike as "regrettable" and called for new talks.

However, TUI Deputy General Secretary Annette Dolan accused the college of failing to negotiate with the staff.

Senator Marc MacSharry, who has been liaising with staff, said the plan to "demote" lecturers in Sligo was "outrageous" and "elitist downgrading" of excellent staff.

He said: "Every single lecturer at St Angela's is highly qualified. The idea that the title of their position change to 'university teacher' is just wrong.

"It would not affect a single cent of their salary, but it does affect the standing of staff and their future career prospects.

"I couldn't believe it when I heard this was included in a 'heads of agreement' deal between NUI Galway and St Angela's."

Staff are also angry that the same agreement could see some of the staff transferred to the Galway campus.

They want guarantees that lecturers will not be forced to move.

"It could mean going to Galway to lecture for part of the week and at the say-so of management," said one lecturer.

"The whole thing is a shambles as far as we are concerned."

MacSharry said the heads of agreement were not yet legally binding.

"This plan must be stopped in its tracks before the heads of agreement become the legal contract for the merger," he said.

Irish Independent

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