Monday 19 August 2019

Union moves towards industrial action over proposed WIT merger

Waterford Institute of Technology
Waterford Institute of Technology

By Esther Hayden

The Teachers' Union of Ireland has served the Waterford Institute of Technology with notice of industrial action.

The first stage of the industrial action will consist of a directive issued to all members, academic and research staff, in the institute not to cooperate with any merger activities.

The Executive of the union at its last meeting approved the sanction for industrial action. The result from the recent Branch ballot was unambiguous with 94 per cent voting in favour of taking industrial action.

It is clear that members are strongly opposed to a merger with the Institute of Technology Carlow.

The Branch consider there is no academic rationale for the proposed merger. It is evident that without increased funding the proposed merger is about rationalisation, this includes provision of programmes and services. The institute has already experienced a disproportionate share of cutbacks.

The quality of provision and services is now at breaking point. Academic staff in the institute are not prepared to have their professional practice further undermined by means of merger rationalisation. The academic staff are committed to achieving a university for Waterford and its surrounding regions. However, a university for Waterford cannot be realised under the proposed merger requirement.

The union is opposed to the requirement to merge contained in the draft legislation for technological university. It is the union's position that institutes should be allowed apply in their own right for technological university status without having to merge first. There is also a need for a realistic playing field in order to provide fair opportunity to succeed. In this regard investment is required to bring the institute on a par with university lecturing, research and funding norms. This would require the recruitment of an estimated 480 additional academic and research staff, an investment of €17 million. Increased investment is crucial if university quality and standards are to be achieved, this cannot be done on a shoestring in a cost neutral approach.

Wexford People

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