A SIPTU ballot proposing strike action for members of the UCD Students’ Union’s staff, in response to the SU’s job cuts and the closure of the Copy Bureau, was refused last week.
President of the SIPTU education branch in UCD, Dr. Kieran Allen, stated that “people have a variety of tactics to deal with injustice, one of them is strike action, one of them is encouraging solidarity from students, one of them is publicity. People obviously decided they didn’t wish, in the Students’ Union at that point in time, to engage in strike action.”
However, the trade union in UCD is not opposed to taking this issue further until a solution is found. “We will be pressing the college authorities to engage and deal with this problem … There are many disabled students who cannot go across the road to a private shop to get their photocopying done, there are many people who don’t have computers, there are many people that find, for example, that printing out individually at home is more expensive, and there [are] many people, if you like, that don’t have the same amount of time.”
Following the protest held on Wednesday, Students’ Union President Pat de Brún stated that the SU had no other alternative and could not reinstate the Copy Bureau. Dr Allen stated that the language used by de Brún “was the language used by Margaret Thatcher back in the eighties. There are always alternatives … you have to look at your budget and decide what is essential.
“There is a pattern emerging in UCD, under the impact of the economic crisis. I think there are some elements of the University that wish to use this opportunity to outsource or to privatise what they would consider non-essential services … we have the copy services being removed, or their attempt to remove it, the next target is the Main Restaurant. There is a proposal currently underway that the Main Restaurant will be privatised.”
He also stated that this is not only an SU issue, but also one that the University itself is responsible for. “The Students’ Union have a responsibility in terms of how they spend their money. I believe money has gone missing and there is a deficit and so on, that’s up to students to sort out, but so too does the University. The University appointed an administrator who was responsible for the accounts … now if that is the case the University cannot wash its hands of it, and nor can it wash its hands of the fact that there is a vital service that students need that is being withdrawn.”