Industrial action over pay parity at a UCC research centre could be extended to the main campus as the row rumbles on with no sign of resolution.
As staff of Tyndall National Institute picketed their city centre workplace for a fourth day in a fortnight, Siptu plans to convene representatives at the nearby university campus next week to consider the nature of supportive action for their colleagues.
Siptu and Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT) members at the research institute were prevented from extending pickets to six of UCC’s 12 main entrances yesterday after management were granted a High Court injunction on Monday.
But Siptu official Bill Mulcahy said they have been put in a position where they would have to ballot all 800 members at UCC.
“We were going to picket the university with just Tyndall staff but, given that the college injuncted us, that’s definitely the next step. We have no choice but to go that route, it clearly doesn’t seem to bother the university that Tyndall is being damaged.”
Siptu represents most striking staff at Tyndall, where unions and UCC management have been unable to agree terms of an appeals mechanism over a disputed job comparison exercise. The employees’ claim for equal pay with those doing similar work at the main campus has been the subject of industrial relations turbulence for the past five years.
Almost 200 Tyndall staff were evaluated by consultants as part of an exercise agreed to by both sides over a year ago. Despite most workers being researchers or technical staff, unions say only six were aligned in the evaluation report to academic or technical grades in UCC and the rest were proposed to move to administrative grades.
IFUT’s UCC branch secretary, Angela Flynn, said they expected the issue to feature strongly at their AGM next Tuesday, the day before Siptu stewards meet to discuss the dispute.
“People are very angry about so much funds going on legal action instead of taking the pay parity case seriously. It has thrown a big question mark over the status of researchers in UCC in general, and it certainly doesn’t help our reputation,” she said.
A High Court judge said on Monday that, although unions had asked members on the main campus to go to work as normal during picketing planned for yesterday, an earlier communication seeking their support was unclear. Siptu had described as alarmist the claims by UCC that pickets would interfere with exams.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved