Tuesday, 26 January 2016
Technological Universities Bill 2015: Report Stage
I support the amendment. I met staff representatives at Cork Institute of Technology, who are very angry. There has been an abject failure to bring the staff along through the process. This is reflected in the overwhelming rejection in the TUI ballot. They are deeply disappointed with what they regard as a significant shift from the heads of the Bill to the detail of it, which we are discussing on Report Stage.
There are serious concerns about many issues with which the Minister is familiar, such as pension entitlements, terms and conditions of employment and security in terms of the provision of certain programmes at a regional level. The concerns are not just about the impact on individual staff members but about the impact on the quality of the education the institutes of technology can provide. There has been a failure to bring the staff and their union along at a management level. They are very concerned that the Bill will be rushed through with very serious ramifications for them personally and for the students to whom they provide a service.
Even at this late stage, I ask the Minister to desist from pushing it through. I am sure she is receiving this feedback directly through her Labour Party representatives, from the TUI nationally and at a local level. It is not the way to do business. We are heading for very serious industrial strife, which is unnecessary. In my experience from talking to the staff members concerned, while they are not against the principle of a technological university, the way it is being done flies in the face of co-operation and the spirit with which these fundamental structural changes to third level education are normally introduced. It is not the way to do it, and I ask the Minister to rethink it.