Unions criticise NUIG research contracts and creche changes

University confirms 239 staff on indefinite contracts, while parents say they were not consulted over new creche management

A recent meeting at NUIG heard of difficulties associated with lack of permanence, such as an inability to apply directly for research funding and problems getting mortgage approval.

A recent meeting at NUIG heard of difficulties associated with lack of permanence, such as an inability to apply directly for research funding and problems getting mortgage approval.

 

Unions at NUIG are reporting discontent over the treatment of researchers on temporary contracts and the university’s handling of a change in management of its creche.

NUIG has confirmed that 239 people are employed on contracts of indefinite duration, which it says are awarded on the basis of the Protection of Employees (Fixed Term Workers) Act 2003 and generally arise where people have been employed on two or more fixed-term contracts.

Union representatives say the number reflects the increasing casualisation of labour within the third-level sector at a time when its strategic plan states it will continue to attract the highest calibre of academic and support staff.

 

Imbalance

A recent meeting at NUIG heard of difficulties associated with lack of permanence, including restricted promotional opportunities, imbalance of responsibilities and inability to apply directly for research funding.

NUIG said it “does not impose restrictions on research funding” and “any restrictions that do exist are imposed by external funding agencies”.

A Siptu representative at NUIG said these staff are “vulnerable, with some people supplementing income with part-time work in bars. Issues can arise in relation to approval of mortgages from banks”.

 

Legal advice

The group is seeking legal advice and further meetings are planned.

Unhappiness among parents of children in the university creche has also resulted in union involvement. Siptu said there was a “complete lack of consultation” with parents over the decision to change the campus creche operator. Although staff were retained, costs have gone up, it says, by as much as €1,000 a year for some. NUIG says the previous operator did not enter into the tender process, and a date of April 3rd was selected for the changeover to “minimise disruption to children”.

Management will meet representatives of the Irish Federation of University Teachers, Siptu and NUIG students’ union on the creche issue next week.