Researchers at UCC’s National Tyndall Institute warn of possible industrial action over pay rates

Leading Tyndall researcher left in disagreement over pay and conditions

Researchers from Tyndall National Institute stage a ‘Stop the Inequity’ information campaign in UCC yesterday to highlight discrimination against researchers on pay and conditions under Croke Park and Haddington road Agreements. Photograph: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

Researchers from Tyndall National Institute stage a ‘Stop the Inequity’ information campaign in UCC yesterday to highlight discrimination against researchers on pay and conditions under Croke Park and Haddington road Agreements. Photograph: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

Fri, Jun 7, 2013, 11:16

Dissatisfaction over pay has caused a scientist at one of Ireland’s’s leading research centres to move away from the facility.

Researchers at the Tyndall National Institute have also warned they may be forced to undertake industrial action if the Government doesn’t address pay and pension inequities which sees them paid one third less than academic colleagues.

Around 60 researchers from the Institute in Cork which is attached to UCC took a day off work yesterday to protest on behalf of themselves and 110 other Tyndall researchers over the issue of unequal pay at an international conference hosted by UCC.

Disagreement over pay and conditions caused a senior materials science researcher there, physicist Jean Pierre Colinge, to leave last year to take up a position in Taiwan. Speaking to The Irish Times from Taiwan last week, he confirmed that he departed from Tyndall over a “pay issue”. “Pay cut after pay cut – I had to draw the line at some point. All the scientists are in the same position,” he said.

His departure raises concerns that other leading scientists could decide to take up posts abroad due to dissatisfaction over pay and conditions.

Eoin Sheehan, a member of the Irish Federation of University Teachers working at the Tyndall Institute said 170 staff at the Tyndall are being discriminated against in the areas of pay, promotion and conditions under both Croke Park and the Haddington Road Agreements.

“We are being treated as second class citizens compared to other researchers working in departments in UCC – we are effectively part of UCC but we are being paid approximately one-third less than our colleagues on campus,” said Mr Sheehan.

Prof Colinge is the recipient of a number of international awards for his work developing the world’s first junctionless transistor at the Tyndall Institute. He was named Science Foundation Ireland Researcher of the Year in 2010.

He works in materials technology, an area that has been identified by the Government as a key research area for Ireland.

The Week of Innovative Regions in Europe (WIRE) Conference was officially opened by Seán Sherlock, Minister of State at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

He met the protestors yesterday and said he shared their concerns over the differentials in pay. He said he believed their cause was just and he promised to raise it with senior officials in the Department of Education and the Department of Enterprise.

In April 2012 the Labour Court rejected a claim by researchers at Tyndall for pay parity with their colleagues at University College Cork, saying that such an adjustment was precluded by the Croke Park agreement. During the hearings representatives for UCC claimed that concession of the cost-increasing claim would have serious financial consequences for the university.

The Tyndall National Institute at UCC was established in 2004. It has over 420 researchers and receives €32million in annual research funding.