The release of students’ exam results has been affected by industrial action, after the UCD branch of SIPTU decided to instigate a work-to-rule policy. The action, which will be the second industrial action taken by SIPTU’s members in UCD this academic year, began on 1st February and follows recent pay cuts averaging 14 per cent for all public sector workers.
UCD Sociology lecturer and head of SIPTU’s educational branch, Dr Kieran Allen, said the action was being pursued by SIPTU’s members in an attempt to register their dissatisfaction with the Government over their pay cuts. Dr Allen described the pay cuts as an unfair attack on public sector employees, commenting that “it is a profound injustice that workers should be penalized by 14 per cent, while banks get billions in bailouts.”
A circular email has been sent to local SIPTU members containing advice on how workers can comply with the work-to-rule conditions. Workers have been advised not to answer the phone every time it rings, to refuse to help with the workload of absent colleagues, to work overtime, and to wait 24 hours before responding to any emails. Staff are also refusing to carry out any work not performed by staff who have left or been made redundant.
Both undergraduate and postgraduate students have been affected by the action, with the release of grades for undergraduate continuous assessment being delayed, while postgraduate tutors have been forced to cover the workload left by the work-to-rule action.
Dr Allen said that the members of his branch had objections to “a situation where jobs are being whittled out of the public sector, and people are being asked to do the work of other people who have left.” He added that the SIPTU branch “won’t be doing that, and we are not happy with that.”
Dr Allen said that he felt the majority of UCD students supported the staff’s cause, despite the impact on their studies. Dr Allen told The University Observer that “we think that most students sympathize and support the staff,” and that students will continue to stand by staff in a display of dissatisfaction with “a government that is determined to penalize the young.”
When asked how long the work-to-rule would continue, Dr Allen said that student input would play a part, feeling that that “the more students that come out in support of this, the sooner the industrial action will end.” Dr Allen added that further industrial action, such as a repeat of the one-day strike that took place last semester, will continue as long as the government continues to refuse to rule out more pay cuts.
A UCD spokesperson stated that “the university is currently monitoring the situation regarding service delivery at UCD,” and that “UCD HR is liaising with the Irish Universities Association in order to take on board any sector based recommendations that may emerge as the action progress across all universities.”
UCD is not the only institution to be affected by a SIPTU work-to-rule action. In Waterford Institute of Technology, students staged an organised walk-out of classes in protest at the late release of their first semester grades, which had yet to be released at the time of going to press.