CIT strike off after last-minute talks

A strike which was due to take place at Cork Institute of Technology today has been deferred following the reinstatement of six catering staff.

Their colleagues have also agreed a voluntary cut, in total, of almost 100 hours as part of a package to secure the jobs.

The industrial action was called off yesterday after talks between Siptu, CIT management, and representatives of Student Services Ltd — a private, not-for-profit company which manages the institute’s four canteens and restaurants, as well as shops.

Siptu served strike notice on CIT last week after the catering management company made six women redundant.

Pickets were due to be placed at the institute’s Bishopstown campus from 7am today. The strike could have crippled the institute as Siptu warned it would appeal to other union members — including caretakers and keyholders — not to cross the picket line.

Siptu said it felt it had no other option after the catering staff were let go without any consultation or redundancy payments.

The union sought a meeting with senior CIT management, including the institute’s president, Brendan Murphy, who sits on the company’s board.

It asked for a deferral of the redundancies while talks took place with a view to saving the jobs.

However, the college authorities said the decision to axe the jobs would not be reversed. The staff then balloted for strike action.

However, following last-minute talks yesterday, Siptu deferred the strike action after a deal was hammered out.

Union official Bill Mulcahy said it included the reinstatement of the six workers at the centre of the dispute, a voluntary reduction in working hours by the other workers, and the establishment of a mediation process to resolve a range of outstanding issues.

“We’re glad things are back on track. The staff never wanted to ballot in the first place but they were left with no option.

“But it just shows that with proper communication and a bit of give and take, the loss of jobs and income can be avoided — not in all cases — but in some.”

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