UCC staff eye strike support

Staff at University College Cork’s main campus could go on strike in September in support of colleagues at a research centre in a long-running pay equality dispute.

The ballot in solidarity with staff of the Tyndall National Institute will be sent to around 800 Siptu members at UCC, it was decided by stewards yesterday.

Pending formal union approval next week, Siptu official Bill Mulcahy said the vote could take place in two to three weeks for a one-day strike on the entire campus at the start of next term.

The move follows a decision of UCC’s branch of the Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT) to seek sanction for a ballot for industrial action across all departments. Although only 70 of its 500 members at UCC attended Tuesday’s AGM, it would have been unanimous but for one abstention.

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The risk of escalation in the pay parity row comes as university president Dr Michael Murphy disputes union claims, as he said terms are already agreed for appeals against the outcome of a recent pay evaluation at Tyndall.

IFUT and Siptu say most of the 182 staff, including many academic and technical workers, were aligned to administrative grades by external consultants brought in to compare Tyndall workers with those on the university’s main campus. The unions want a robust appeals mechanism and say they have failed to secure management agreement on this.

Dr Murphy told the Irish Examiner there has been such agreement and it is regrettable that the dispute has continued so long.

“We sat down with the unions and agreed means by which the claim would be addressed. They participated in the design of the process and in selecting the job evaluation process and in designing the appeals mechanism,” he said.

Tyndall staff were ordered by the High Court last week not to picket the main campus after UCC sought an injunction against the extension of picketing from the nearby research centre.

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