IMPACT Bites Back – Against Its Own Members, That Is

16 Dec

Our exposé of IMPACT boss Shay Cody’s shameless boasting to TD’s about how much he had managed to shaft his own members has elicited a furious response from the union. Gone are the soothing, reassuring words to members, the hallmark of IMPACT’s line on the Croke Park Agreement to date.

Instead, in an email circulated to members, IMPACT’s Information Officer Bernard Harbour let slip that, aside from TD’s, the damning letter had in fact been circulated to all senators as well. The excuse – a craven effort to curry favour with those hostile to the deal, an effort backed by their executive committee.

Mouthpiece for the Vichy government of Irish trade unions

Harbour goes on tartly to remind members that they voted for the deal – even quoting the percentages involved – while raising the spectre of further pay cuts and compulsory redundancies unless they shut up and take their medicine.

Not mincing his words he says “the Croke Park agreement requires staff and unions to co-operate with the restructuring and rationalisation of the VEC sector”.

And as to the suggestion that VEC staff are so upset by their union’s stance that many are considering leaving, Harbour bares his teeth with “it is also worth pointing out that the protections in the Croke Park agreement would not necessarily be available to VEC staff who are not union members.

With unions like these, who needs IBEC?


One Response to “IMPACT Bites Back – Against Its Own Members, That Is”

  1. paddy healy December 31, 2010 at 7:53 am #

    Defend Education!
    Letter Published in Irish Times to-day
    Push to increase teaching load
    • Madam, – Your Education Correspondent, Seán Flynn (Home News, December 29th) referred to a message I sent to colleagues in institutes of technology recently. He also quoted Prof Von Prondzynski, who is not from our sector, as saying that holidays in institutes of technology were “hard to defend”. In addition, Mr Flynn refers to a current annual workload of 560 hours per year. The Department of Education is attempting to enforce an annual teaching load of a minimum of 560 hours per year in addition to the additional hour per week stipulated in the Croke Park deal. Workload is a different matter.
    The workload of lecturers at third level involves both teaching and scholarship. Scholarship includes inter alia research, creative writing and maintenance of world-class practical skills in a rapidly changing world.
    Some commentators take no account of the number of post- graduate students supervised, the amount of research and scholarship carried out, the number of publications produced, the weight of course direction and co-ordination undertaken, or the course reviews completed (not to mention lecture preparation and task correction).
    Under the Croke Park deal the management side is demanding that the teaching load be increased to 20 plus one hours per week for lecturers and 22 plus one hours for assistant lecturers. A survey commissioned by TUI some years ago concluded that the current 16/18 hour lecturing load was equivalent to a 50-54 hour working week of teaching and related duties alone. It is extremely difficult to conduct the degree of scholarship appropriate to a third-level institution in the context of such a teaching load.
    Currently many lecturers struggle on with scholarly activity during term time and then put on a big push during the holidays. Any agreement to reduce the vacation period would lead to an extension of teaching into the holiday period by the authorities.
    The attempt by institutes and Government to reduce vacation periods in addition to imposing the biggest teaching load in Western Europe on lecturing staff cannot fail to damage the institutes and literally make the adequate performance of full academic duties impossible.
    It is clear that government wishes to effectively reduce the institutes to teaching-only institutions.
    The development of institutes of technology has been a hugely successful initiative in Irish education. Could the Government that oversaw the destruction of the banks be allowed to seriously damage third-level education also? – Yours, etc,
    PADDY HEALY, 086-4183732
    Griffith Court,
    Dublin 3.

    Original Report
    Third level staff being ‘bludgeoned’ on concessions
    SEÁN FLYNN Education Editor
    Wed, Dec 29, 2010
    ACADEMIC STAFF in third-level colleges are being “bludgeoned into submission” and forced to accept key concessions including much shorter summer holidays, a former president of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) has said.
    In an e-mail to colleagues, Paddy Healy – a lecturer in the Dublin Institute of Technology – warns discussions on the Croke Park deal will see lecturers in the 14 institutes of technology forced to accept concessions including a reduction in the summer break.
    Under the Croke Park deal, third-level staff are required to teach for one extra hour per week, on top of the current annual workload of 560 hours. The agreement also provides for staff co-operation with academic workload management in return for a commitment to no redundancies until 2014.
    Mr Healy said current talks on the Croke Park modernisation measures were being “dragged out until institute staff have been bludgeoned into submission”.
    Brigid McManus, secretary general of the Department of Education, has acknowledged there were certain rigidities in the contract for lecturers in the institutes of technology. They are required to lecture 16 hours a week, and begin summer holidays on June 20th.
    In a report in June, Comptroller and Auditor General John Buckley said it was “disturbing that some lecturers have a belief that their obligations to an institute of technology are exhausted upon delivery of contract hours which are set in terms of a norm of 16 hours per week”. Earlier this year, the Dáil Public Accounts Committee heard how some academics in Irish universities could work for as few as 15 hours every week.
    University chiefs said while staff do not have minimum working hours, they spend considerable time on research and other duties.
    The TUI – whose membership includes both second- and third-level staff – voted against the Croke Park deal. Members agreed to lift industrial action and enter talks on the deal after the department threatened to sack lecturers at the institutes of technology.
    The National Strategy for Higher Education, published next month, proposes a new workload management system both in universities and the institutes of technology where the work of staff could be more closely monitored.
    In a posting on his blog former DCU president Prof Ferdinand von Prondzynski said some of the “protections” enjoyed by institute of technology staff (such as long summer holidays) were hard to defend, “or at any rate it would be unwise to defend them publicly”.
    © 2010 The Irish Times

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