CIT staff to protest over student counsellor advert

Staff at Cork Institute of Technology are to protest today ahead of potential strike action over what they say is management’s failure to adhere to industrial relations procedures.

It follows complaints that CIT is advertising for student counsellor with qualifications below an agreed standard.

The protest, which will be held on CIT campus this lunchtime, has been organised by members of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland branch at the institute, and has been prompted by an advertisement issued by management for a position in the college’s student counselling service.

Yesterday, the TUI said that the terms of the job, as advertised, are a breach of a national agreement.

“CIT management intend to press ahead with an appointment to a post in student counselling that was advertised with qualifications below that agreed between TUI and the institutes of technology in a national agreement as defined in a Department of Education and Skills circular letter,” the TUI said.

“In spite of the fact that the branch had initiated a formal grievance under the institute’s agreed grievance procedure, CIT management have elected to ignore the agreed industrial relations procedure. Instead of talking with the staff representative union with a view to resolving the dispute, the management is ignoring their own industrial relations procedures and pressing ahead with the appointment.”

The union warned that the developments represented “a further deterioration of industrial relations at CIT” and that it will ballot members on industrial action “up to and including strike action” if management do not agree to talks with a view to resolving the dispute before an appointment is made.

In a statement, CIT said it advertised for “a full-time student counsellor to complement the existing part-time, and contract based service”.

“The full-time post will be implemented with the nationally agreed contract. The TUI have been given an assurance that any successful candidate will be fully qualified in accordance with any national agreement on professional counselling requirements.

“CIT’s primary concern is the safety and welfare of its students. There is a significant demand on our excellent student counselling team and we have assured students that we will not delay in providing a full-time support to the service,” it stated.

However Paul Rothwell, chair of the CIT branch of the TUI, questioned why the post has been advertised with lower qualifications sought, if CIT insists the successful candidate will meet agreed standards.

“Unfortunately when we ask this question we are told this was none of our business,” he said.

He added that the TUI fears that the vacancy in counselling will be used to appoint a manager for the service instead.


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