Union attacks ITT Cork merger

Simon Brouder

As Institute of Technology Tralee's planned amalgamation with Cork IT enters its closing stages the main teaching union representing staff at both colleges launched a blistering attack on the merger process.

On Monday - with just days to go before an international panel is due to visit ITT and CIT to adjudicate on their joint bid to form a new Munster Technological University (MTU) - the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) launched a broadside attack on the plan.

The union urged members to vote 'No' in a ballot on the merger process on Monday and Tuesday and it plans to mount protests in Cork later this week when the adjudication panel arrives to assess the MTU bid.

TUI members in Cork and Tralee voted in January to back the MTU project. However, the union claims promises made to secure its members' support were not followed through on.

"Academic staff are left without clear answers to basic questions. Questions on structures and protection of courses need to be addressed. For example, we have no idea of the structure of the new University and how local courses in each campus will be affected," said a TUI statement.

Ursula Barrett, Chair of the TUI branch at IT Tralee said members are "very disappointed" with the process.

"We remain willing to meet our responsibilities to negotiate but Management needs to follow through on addressing all issues they previously agreed to address. This needs to be through ongoing meaningful consultation," she said.

Management at ITT said it was "disappointed" at the planned TUI protests and insisted that engaging with all stakeholders had been a priority throughout the process.

ITT said that since September 2018 there were 20 "formal engagements" between ITT/CIT management and TUI,  

"Senior management from both Institutes are currently engaged in a process with PwC to design an organisational structure for the new university," said ITT Acting President Dr Brendan O'Donnell. 

"The overarching principle of the organisation design is to support a consistent, equitable and high quality student, staff and alumni experience, in the most efficient and effective manner across the MTU," Dr O'Donnell said.

"Significant progress has been made on the organisational structure and whilst work is ongoing, in order to ensure appropriate levels of consultation across both organisations, it has not been possible to finalise these structures in advance of the panel's visit," Dr O'Donnell told The Kerryman.