Students caught in crossfire as DkIT strike begins

STUDENTS at Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT) are “annoyed” because they have not been issued their exam results due to industrial action at the third level college.
DkIT students were due to have their exam results issued on Thursday, February 4 but lecturers are under strict instructions from the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) not to issue the results.

According to DkIT Student Union (SU) President Taidgh Kavanagh students are now “caught in the cross-fire” between the TUI and DkIT President Michael Mulvey.
“TUI has instructed lecturers not to give out exam results until Michael Mulvey returns to the Workplace Relations Commission,” said Taidgh.
“The issue really affects final year students who need to know their results before doing their final exams.”
Taidgh added: “This is bringing a lot of uncertainty. Students have lost jobs, family, friends and Erasmus opportunities this year because of Covid-19.

“Covid-19 is beyond our control but this situation is within our control. This issue can’t keep going like this. It needs to be sorted immediately.
“This has been a very tough year for students. This situation is avoidable and I’m asking for this issue to be resolved for the betterment of the student body.”
According to Kenneth Sloane, vice chair of Dundalk IT TUI, the industrial action was regrettably taken when it became apparent that the DkIT executive were unwilling to honour commitments made to them in 2019.
“DkIT’s Executive signed an agreement in November 2019 that was lodged with The Higher Education Authority (HEA) and the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

“It committed the Institute Executive to immediate action on a number of issues including improving the functioning of Management Bodies and the commencement of talks with other Institutes of Technology with the view to swiftly identifying a preferred partner with whom to pursue Technological University status. To date the DkIT Executive has failed to honour the commitments made in this agreement,” explained Kenneth.

“While subsequent industrial action has forced some progress on the Technological University issue, senior Management bodies remain dysfunctional due to the DkIT President’s refusal to permit Senior Managers to table items for discussion or permit the open discussion and recording of different opinions. Consequently major items of concern to Senior Managers have gone undiscussed and unaddressed and subsequently impacted negatively on DkIT strategic and operational functions.

“The TUI has engaged in lengthy negotiations with the DkIT Executive in a process facilitated by the WRC to develop an agreed Terms of Reference that would restore the functioning of Management bodies in accordance with good Governance best practice, however in December 2020 the WRC concluded that there was no basis to continue these discussions due to the DkIT Executive’s unwillingness to reach a compromise on these basic issues.

“Therefore regrettably the TUI has had to reimpose industrial action due to failure of management to fulfill its commitment made in the November 2019 agreement. While we are keenly aware of the stress this may place on students and staff who are facing a very challenging educational environment, the responsibility for this reimposition of industrial action is entirely due to the intransigence of the DkIT President’s office. The action has not disrupted the delivery of lessons and has been specifically calibrated to have a minimal impact on students day to day learning. The action can also be swiftly reversed should the DkIT Executive agree to return to talks at the WRC. The TUI has communicated to the DkIT Executive and the WRC our willingness to return to and continue talks. We have not to date received a response from DkIT’s Executive indicating they are willing to return to negotiations. The current industrial action could be lifted swiftly should the DkIT’s Executive agree to return to talks.

Meanwhile a statement issued by DkIT insisted that theu are looking for a ‘swift and appropriate resolution’ to the industrial action taken by the TUI.

“Management within the Institute are currently seeking swift and appropriate resolution to industrial action by the Dundalk Branch of the TUI. The Institute will continue to endeavour, as it has done since notification of this industrial action was issued, to reach a suitable pathway forward that will recognise the rights and interests of the parties concerned.

All staff at DkIT remain committed to ensuring the continuation of teaching and learning and all other associated services at this challenging time. The welfare of students remains the utmost priority and every effort is being made to ensure further disruption can be avoided. It is highly regrettable that there has been a delay in some students receiving their winter examination results as result of this action. We are working with all parties to find prompt resolution and expect students to receive their results shortly and via the normal channels,” concluded the statement.

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