SAFEGUARDS have been negotiated by the UCD section of the Services, Industrial, Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU) for staff who the university have asked to undergo a Performance Management Development System (PMDS) review.
The process of PMDS reviews, which examines individual staff performance, is currently underway at the moment. Although SIPTU are not in favor of the PMDS system, they had accepted the agreement in order to secure small pay increases for their workers.
SIPTU sought the safeguards as a result of their concerns over the process of their reviews. The head of the UCD SIPTU branch, Dr Kieran Allen, explained that “the union basically feel that we have done a lot to build in safeguards into a process that might have been intimidatory for staff ”.
Dr Allen went on to explain that his concern was that if too much pressure is put on an individual, without giving an input into “looking at the structure of the institution… what can happen is the individual staff member is subject to continuous pressure or what some people call management-backed stress. So that’s our concern and what we sought to do, given that we had to do this, is that we sought to build in safeguards”.
Some of the safeguards outlined include that the PMDS reviews are entirely confidential and cannot be linked in any way to discipline, promotion or incremental pay. An employee undergoing a review is entitled to have their trade union representative present.
Dr Allen said, “In the main [scheme], the agreement is quite satisfactory but there were two issues that we pushed for that we would have liked further progress on”. He cited the failure to introduce an “upward feedback mechanism” as an issue.
“We do not see why it’s just the staff that is subject to this performance reviews” stated Dr Allen. “We would have thought that the management, who are certainly very enthusiastic [in] pushing this PMDS system might also wish to have themselves reviewed by the staff that they are managing”. According to Dr Allen, management have promised to look at introducing an upper feedback mechanism at a later date.
The second issue highlighted by Dr Allen is that there is no ring fenced training fund, which could be drawn upon “if staff feel they need to up-skill, in order to do their job better”.
Dr Allen went on to say that “we were very disappointed… that money which could have been used for such a training fund was yet again used to hire consultants and outside agencies to run the PMDS system itself. In other words we think that if the PMDS had been run by the HR (Human Resources) in UCD, more funds could have been kept for training”.
PMDS is part of the Towards 2016 Ten-Year Framework Social Partnership Agreement that has been introduced by the government in 2006. The aim of the agreement is to enhance and improve a wide range of policy areas such as infrastructure, social policy, the economy and employment rights.