Trinity ordered to reinstate three staff cut over funding

The Labour Court has told TCD to re-employ three staff who were let go last year, because under the Croke Park Agreement there should be no compulsory redundancies in the public service.

The court said the two lecturers and a librarian should be reinstated and that the university must “manage any issues arising through the flexibility, redeployment and retraining provisions set out in the [Croke Park] agreement or as appropriate through a scheme of voluntary redundancy”.

The Irish Federation of University Teachers, which represented the affected staff, had argued that TCD was in contravention of Croke Park as it provided a commitment that redundancy would not apply within the public service before the agreement expires in 2014.

It said its members had contracts of indefinite duration — effectively permanent contracts with the college — which were therefore protected by Croke Park.

TCD said the appointments of the affected workers were funded from external sources, and the funding had now ceased.

It said the staff had been told in their letter of offer that their appointment was contingent on the continued availability of funding, and that the posts would become redundant if the funding stopped. It said that had been the custom and practice at TCD for a number of years.

The Labour Court ruled: “The claimants’ individual employment history, for reasons specific to each of them individually, entitles each of them to rely on the commitment set out in clause 1.6 of the Public Service Agreement 2010-2014.”

Mike Jennings, IFUT general secretary, welcomed the court’s recommendation, saying that, under the terms of the Croke Park agreement, it is binding on TCD.

“Considering the pay cuts we have suffered and the massive extra productivity given by IFUT members under the agreement, it would have been unconscionable that our members would be denied the agreed quid pro quo of no compulsory redundancies,” Mr Jennings said.

Meanwhile, at the Labour Relations Commission, public sector trade unions have rejected management proposals for new sick leave arrangements across the service.

At present, staff can take up to seven paid, uncertified (leave without a doctor’s certificate) sick days per year. Most public servants on certified sick leave can receive full pay for up to six months in one year, and half pay thereafter, subject to a maximum of 12 month’s paid sick leave in any four-year period.

It is understood management have proposed to reduce uncertified sick leave to three days per year and certified leave to a maximum of three months on full pay and three further months on half-pay.

Shay Cody, chair of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions’ Public Services Committee, told the LRC yesterday that the “blanket reduction” in sick leave arrangements proposed by management would do little to address any abuse of the system, but would have a disastrous effect on those who suffer catastrophic or life-threatening illnesses, regardless of their previous sick leave record.

Unions said the most recent figures from the Comptroller and Auditor General showed 40% of civil servants take no sick leave at all, and that the average amount of uncertified sick leave taken by each employee was well below two days in a year.

“The assertion that sick leave arrangements are treated by staff as additional holiday entitlement is well wide of the mark, and management put forward no evidence to support it,” said Mr Cody.


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