Strike action on the cards at GMIT amid job loss fears

Posted in Governance and administration on May 13th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“Up to 100 staff at GMIT could be balloted for strike action amid fears that the IT intends to cut jobs as a result of budget deficits. It follows the revelation in recent weeks that an assessment by an independent consultant proposed that 22 staff be let go during the current academic year …” (more)

[Galway Bay FM, 12 May]

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War of words over job cuts proposal at GMIT

Posted in Governance and administration on May 10th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“The Governing Body of GMIT is divided over proposals to axe staff from the payroll. In an unprecedented move, a Governing Body member has publicly challenged GMIT President, Fergal Barry, over alleged ‘factually incorrect’ statements made by him regarding proposed job cuts …” (more)

[Dara Bradley, Galway City Tribune, 9 May]

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60 GMIT staff face chop in cutbacks

Posted in Governance and administration on April 29th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“Up to 60 staff of GMIT face the chop in a ‘downsizing’ plan to save money, the Galway City Tribune has learned. Confusion reigns on the Dublin Road campus as to the exact number of employees of the college whose contracts will be terminated or not renewed over the next 12 months …” (more)

[Enda Cunningham, Galway City Tribune, 29 April]

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Another University of Limerick pay-off – without approval

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on April 16th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“The Department of Education has confirmed that the University of Limerick did not seek prior written approval in relation to an additional €150,000 severance payment to a staff member, following on from two earlier payments – amounting to more than €450,000 – which were recently questioned by the Comptroller & Auditor General …” (more)

[Anne Sheridan, Limerick Leader, 15 April]

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Watchdog: UL paid two staff €450k to leave jobs

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on April 11th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“The state spending watchdog has found that the University of Limerick did not comply with good practice in offering two employees severance packages amounting to over €450,000 between them, following a review of high-value discretionary severance payments … ” (more)

[Anne Sheridan, Limerick Leader, 8 April]

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WIT withdraws memo regarding redundancy scheme

Posted in Governance and administration on February 25th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“Waterford Institute of Technology has withdrawn a letter sent to unions stating that the Department of Education and Skills had informed them of the possibility of a voluntary redundancy scheme for public servants employed in the education and training sector. The memo seen by RTÉ News was sent to representatives of the Teachers Union of Ireland, IMPACT, Unite and SIPTU last night by a senior manager at WIT …” (more)

[RTÉ News, 25 February]

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Ulster University: Redundancy Funding

Posted in Governance and administration on December 1st, 2015 by steve

UKJohn Dallat (Social Democratic and Labour Party) asked the Minister for Employment and Learning for an update on the redundancy process at the Ulster University …” (more)

[Northern Ireland Assembly, 30 November]

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Queen’s University: Compulsory redundancies possible in bid to save money

Posted in Governance and administration on September 17th, 2015 by steve

UK“Queen’s University in Belfast has warned staff it may have to make compulsory redundancies in an effort to save money, the BBC has learned. The university announced in April it was cutting 236 posts in 2015/16 through a voluntary redundancy scheme …” (more)

[Robbie Meredith, BBC News, 17 September]

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Lansdowne Road Agreement: Vote Yes or No?

Posted in Governance and administration on June 22nd, 2015 by steve

Ireland“I usually have strong convictions about issues affecting the education system but I am really not sure which way to vote in the Lansdowne Road Agreement so I thought I would take the two main advocates of either side of the debate and try and make it into a balanced guide. By the end of me writing this, I hope I will come to some conclusion by the end of the article …” (more)

[, 21 June]

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Belfast Met staff warned of job losses – Unite

Posted in Governance and administration on March 24th, 2015 by steve

UK“The Unite union has said its members who work at Belfast Metropolitan College have been told to expect between 83 and 113 redundancies. Last October, staff were warned of a ‘significant impact’ of ‘severe budget cuts’ …” (more)

[BBC News, 24 March]

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Education: Budget cuts could mean job losses and closure of places

Posted in Governance and administration on December 4th, 2014 by steve

UK“Some 17,000 education and training places could go as a result of severe cutbacks, the Department for Employment and Learning has revealed. It means that 1,500 jobs are at risk: 650 in higher education, 500 in further education and 400 civil servants …” (more)

[BBC News NI, 4 December]

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‘Not proven’ jobs are on the line as DIT prepares for merger with ITT and ITB

Posted in Governance and administration on November 29th, 2014 by steve

Ireland“TU4 Dublin Programme Coordinator, Mike Murphy has said that it is ‘not proven’ that there will be cuts to staff numbers after DIT’s merger is completed with IT Tallaght and IT Blanchardstown. The programme coordinator, speaking to the Edition about DIT’s bid to become a technological university, said that the college is in ‘no way, shape or form’ seeking to have larger class sizes …” (more)

[Barry Lennon, The Edition, 29 November]

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The Higher Education and Research Bill 2014 – 5. Staff: tenure

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on April 8th, 2014 by steve

Academic tenure is probably the most controversial area addressed by the Barrett bill. Unfortunately the agenda is far from clear. Senator Barrett writes of addressing “the problems created by the Cahill v. Dublin City University case [2009] IESC 80” (which are …?). He adds that “[m]uch of what is understood as tenure is actually the norms and practices of the public service being applied to higher education and research” – a controversial statement, to put it mildly. As it is, we have proposals in the draft bill, but little by way of justification or explanation. There seem to be four main issues:

Fixed-term contracts. This is flagged up as an issue by Senator John Crown, who graphically referred to researchers “living from one six-month period to the next, wondering when they will get another research grant or whether, at the whim of people whose vanity research project is satisfied by their activities, they have a job to go to”. It is not clear what, if anything, the Barrett bill will do for such people; I rather suspect that cl 24(8)(e)(ii) (“discharge of the contract by operation of law”) is meant to ensure that it does nothing at all. If this is not a problem that the bill means to address, this should be made clearer.

Progression. Cl 24(8)(c) proposes a probationary period of 24 months for all academics (“teachers or investigators”), after which they acquire tenure. Senator Kathryn Reilly has already suggested that this is on the long side. I suspect that university management will regard it as too short, as a proper demonstration of fitness will probably involve quite a bit of paperwork, and the bill requires 6 months’ notice of a refusal to grant tenure (cl 24(8)(d)(ii)). And how is this framework to deal with internal promotions? – If a lecturer with tenure is promoted to a senior lectureship, does s/he lose tenure for 24 months? On all of these issues, this seems to be an area where higher education institutions will already have settled procedures, almost certainly negotiated with union representatives, and so a careful case for outside intervention will need to be made.

Removal for cause. The bill gives various procedural rights to staff members whose removal for cause is being considered, including (“if possible”) a right to be heard both by the academic council and by the governing authority. The right to academic freedom (cl 13) would no doubt be of relevance in many such cases. Where what is alleged is incompetence, there should be evidence from teachers and scholars. Dismissal should carry a right to a year’s pay unless the case involves “moral turpitude” (cl 24(8)(d)(iv)). But what is this all for? It would help considerably if Senator Barrett could state clearly what he sees as the problem here: the existing defence of academic freedom, and procedural rights on dismissal, are already substantial. What is he trying to achieve?

Removal for redundancy. Current university law already guarantees tenure (Universities Act 1997 s 25(6)), but does this preclude redundancy? The only judge ever to attempt an answer (Clarke J in Cahill v. Dublin City University [2007] IEHC 20 para 6.3) thought not, though a carefully-written institutional statute would be needed. But the matter remains unclear. The Barrett bill guarantees tenure in general, but makes an exception for “extraordinary circumstances because of financial exigencies” (cl 24(8)(c)), which exigencies must be “demonstrably bona fide” (cl 24(8)(e)). What does this mean? Experience suggests that there are three main situations where an institution is likely to seek redundancies:

  1. where a particular income stream (grant, programme income), which pays for specific posts, dries up, and it is decided to terminate the posts;
  2. where a particular department or unit persistently makes losses, and so there is a decision to close it or scale it down;
  3. where the institution as a whole is in deficit, and it is decided to reduce total staffing bring the institution back within budget.

Case 1 is already a familiar part of the higher education scene; case 2 would change institutional politics profoundly, as “black hole” departments would suddenly find their position infinitely more precarious than hitherto; and case 3 will become the new nightmare for all staff who cannot produce instant and reliable proof of their indispensability.

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Howlin – sale of assets may fund redundancies

Posted in Governance and administration on January 15th, 2014 by steve

“Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin has said money from the sale of State assets could be used to fund voluntary redundancies in the public service …” (more)

[RTÉ News, 15 January]

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‘I’m voting no again to ministerial hot air’

Posted in Governance and administration on December 9th, 2013 by steve

“Education and Skills Minister Ruairi Quinn says ASTI members are at risk of redundancy if they don’t accept Haddington Road. I say no to ministerial ‘hot air’ …” (more)

[Barry Hazel, Independent, 9 December]

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Quinn warns teachers over redundancy risks again

Posted in Governance and administration on December 3rd, 2013 by steve

“Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has repeated the possibility of secondary school teachers being made redundant if their union rejects the Haddington Road Agreement for a second time …” (more)

[Niall Murray, Irish Examiner, 3 December]

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Teachers’ union will not accept redundancies

Posted in Governance and administration on December 2nd, 2013 by steve

“The ASTI has warned they will not accept compulsory redundancies on the back of a review of pupil-teacher ratios in schools …” (more)

[, 2 December]

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Teachers could be first public servants to lose jobs

Posted in Governance and administration on December 2nd, 2013 by steve

“Teachers in up to 30 schools face losing their jobs next year if the ASTI rejects the Haddington Road pay and productivity deal again …” (more)

[Independent, 2 December]

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Chalk Talk

Posted in Governance and administration on October 1st, 2013 by steve

“… There were rumblings of disquiet at Trinity College Dublin this week as provost Paddy Prendergast flagged a rebranding of the 400-year-old university. A staff consultation is planned to get ideas on the venture …” (more)

[Irish Times, 1 October]

[“Chalk Talk”?! How many teachers use chalk these days?]

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Quinn warning for ASTI members

Posted in Governance and administration on September 25th, 2013 by steve

“The Government tonight warned secondary teachers they would lose their protection from compulsory redundancy after rejecting the Haddington Road agreement …” (more)

[RTÉ News, 24 September]

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