Tuesday, 26 January 2016
Technological Universities Bill 2015: Report Stage
As discussed on Committee Stage, Deputy O'Brien's amendments Nos. 9, 38, 84, 87, 98 and 109 all relate either to the definition of trade union or use of the term "staff association". In all such cases, the standard wording used can be found in a wide range of similar legislation. Recent examples include the County Enterprise Boards (Dissolution) Act 2014, the Industrial Development (Forfás Dissolution) Act 2014 and the Education and Training Boards Act 2013. The proposed amendments would have the effect of varying the standard wording and for that reason I cannot support them.
To be clear, the use of the term "trade union or staff association" in the Bill does not in any way undermine the position of the trade unions, which represent the staff of the institutions concerned. Rather, it is included to ensure that all relevant staff interests are consulted, where appropriate. While I understand that there are currently no staff associations within the institute of technology sector, that is not to say there will not be in future. The Bill should reflect this possibility. With regard to amendments Nos. 36 and 39 put forward by Deputy O'Brien, these relate to the establishment of dispute resolution procedures by technological universities. Amendment No. 36 would remove from that section the standard reference to staff associations as well as trade unions. It also unnecessarily distinguishes between the dispute resolution procedures that would apply to staff and those that would apply to students.
Amendment No. 39, in providing that the method of publication of those procedures must be jointly agreed with the parties concerned, goes further than is necessary. Institutes of technology and universities currently make those procedures available both in hard copy and electronically. This would also be the case for technological universities. For these reasons, I cannot support amendments Nos. 36 and 39.
However, following the discussion of this matter on Committee Stage, I propose amendment No. 37. This amendment makes absolutely clear that a technological university will be required to consult with all trade unions and staff associations representing its staff when developing its dispute resolution procedures.
With regard to amendment No. 86, proposed by Deputies Paul Murphy, Ruth Coppinger and Joe Higgins, I repeat that the proposed amendment would alter standard wording that is found in a wide range of similar legislation. Furthermore, the sole outcome of this amendment would be to remove any flexibility available to a trade union to enter a revised collective agreement in relation to remuneration. For both reasons, I cannot support this amendment.