TUI warns teaching staff can't handle additional workload in re-opening schools

TUI warns teaching staff can't handle additional workload in re-opening schools
Teachers Union of Ireland Genral Secretary John MacGabhann: Without extra funding, health and safety of staff and students cannot be guaranteed. Picture:Gareth Chaney/Collins

The Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI) has called for urgent meetings with Simon Harris, the minister for further and higher education, and senior officials in his department, to discuss its concerns around the resources for reopening higher education institutions (HEIs) in September. 

The union has "made it clear" reopening cannot be predicated on additional workloads on lecturers and researchers who, even before the pandemic, had a workload "way above the domestic and international norms".

It expressed the concerns following the publication of the public health guidelines for HEIs this week. The guidelines include advice on managing physical distancing as well as implementing public health advice on campus. 

"There is no reference in the document to resourcing and funding," said TUI general secretary John MacGabhann, "which is, of course, the key issue — as without adequate resourcing, neither on-site or off-site teaching and learning can be of the requisite quality.

"Without the requisite funding, measures required to ensure that the health and safety of staff and students are protected cannot be properly implemented. The TUI, on behalf of members, has demanded additional staffing so that the insupportable burden of additional workload can be alleviated in an appropriate manner."

Last month, a €168m plan for the sector was unveiled by the department to help mitigate the effects of the pandemic. The TUI says it is now urgent that the Government clarifies what portion of this is for institutes of technologies and technological universities.

In a statement, the Department of Further and Higher Education said national guidance was developed in close consultation with stakeholders and representative bodies. Feedback and observations were incorporated, it added. 

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