Pressure on lecturers over Croke Park deal

 

UNIVERSITY LECTURERS have defended their continued opposition to the Croke Park agreement after reports that the Department of Education is to impose pay cuts on more than 2,000 members unless they back the deal.

Yesterday, the Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT) said it had received no ultimatum from the department threatening pay cuts. But senior education sources said the ultimatum would be delivered shortly unless the union changes tack.

The federation, whose members rejected the deal last year, is under pressure to reballot. This has intensified after the Teachers Union of Ireland decided to reballot members on Friday, shortly after the department threatened to impose compulsory redundancies in the institute of technology sector.

Last month, the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland’s members backed the deal in a reballot. Yesterday, university teachers federation’s general secretary Mike Jennings said there was no evidence to support suggestions that the department had “lost patience” with the federation.

“IFUT has received no phone call, text, fax, e-mail or any other communication from the department or any university to indicate dissatisfaction with our engagement in the negotiating process. Rather it has been IFUT that has expressed unease at the slow bicycle-race nature of the process and it would appear that other vested interests have adopted an approach of ‘getting their retaliation in first’,” he said.

The federation renewed its criticism of proposals from university presidents which would see a longer academic working year and changes in academic freedom.

Yesterday, education sources said federation members could no longer be given the “protection” provided by the deal, unless they moved to endorse it. The deal provides for no pay cuts and no forced redundancies until 2014 in return for additional productivity and modernisation measures.

The seven universities are finalising implementation plans for the deal, under which academics must clarify how their working hours are divided between teaching, research and other duties.