Teachers Conference: Applause for minister’s stance in takeover row

Teachers and lecturers rose in applause at Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan’s intervention on behalf of colleagues who are in dispute with two colleges over the effects of a planned takeover.

Teachers Conference: Applause for minister’s stance in takeover row

The row at St Angela’s College, where the Teachers’ Union of Ireland plan a second one-day strike next Thursday, centres largely on what, they say, has been the refusal of NUI Galway to engage with them.

The teacher-training college is due to be incorporated into the university, but the union claims management has refused to engage with TUI on behalf of its members there, who have concerns about being moved to different grades and other effects on their conditions.

The minister told TUI congress her department has written to St Angela’s and NUIG, making clear there should be direct engagement with TUI on industrial relations issues arising from the proposed incorporation.

“I firmly believe that staff and their unions should have the right to be consulted and provided with information on any proposed changes to their employment,” Ms O’Sullivan said, prompting an ovation from delegates.

TUI president Gerry Quinn asked the minister to tell college management the union will stand by their colleagues at St Angela’s.

The congress backed calls for a lunchtime protest at institutes of technology on Thursday in solidarity with St Angela’s staff if the strike goes ahead.

The minister said she looks forward to developments after a recent Labour Relations Commission invitation to all sides to engage in discussions.

A NUI Galway response did not address the LRC invite but said direct discussions will take place with TUI and other unions on matters directly related to the transfer of staff. It said it could meet TUI on incorporation matters of direct reference to members “in a matter of weeks”, sooner than previously expected.

While all obligations to inform and communicate with staff would be observed, a spokesperson said, NUIG has no mechanism available to negotiate or make collective agreements with a union it does not currently recognise.

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