Many will be aware of the ‘Report to the Minister for Education and Skills of the Chairperson of the Expert group on Fixed-Term and Part-Time Employment in Lecturing in Third Level Education in Ireland’, aka the ‘Cush’ Report which was published in June of 2016 whereby its recommendations were accepted as policy by the Department of Education and Skills in July of 2016.
The recommendations addressed some matters concerning certain conditions of employment for Lecturers in the University sector.
The main areas of improvement include:
- A reduction in the waiting period for eligibility to a CID
- Sanctioning of additional hours to existing part-time lecturers
- The provision for a dedicated Adjudication Process to address disputes pertaining to the recommendations
IFUT succeeded in securing the appointment of an Adjudicator (Kevin Duffy, former Labour Court Chair) to examine all cases which fall under the remit of the Cush Report in 2019 and since then this adjudication service has been available to all IFUT members.
In the period since the Report was first published (June 2016) the employers across the University Sector have had ample opportunity to address the unsatisfactory practices which gave rise to the need for the report and the recommendations.
Remarkably though there remains, across the sector, examples of Lecturers working under successive fixed-term contracts where CIDs are appropriate. There are also examples where IFUT members on part-time contracts are not being offered additional hours as they come available which in certain cases would allow members to move from 0.5 CIDs to full CIDs. Indeed, there are situations where members on ‘partial’ contracts are regularly doing additional hours that should be subsumed or incorporated into their contract of employment.
IFUT Head Office have developed a ‘Pack’ which was shared with all IFUT Branch Committees in 2019 which outlines the process for taking member’s cases under ‘Cush’. The pack includes template documents in line with that agreed in the protocol between IFUT and the Irish Universities Association (IUA). The packs are available to any member wishing to make a claim under ‘Cush’.
Since the establishment of the specific adjudication service there has only been one ‘full’ hearing. There have been several referrals to the Adjudicator and many more cases raised at local level using the established templates. In the vast majority of these cases the claims have been conceded locally to the huge satisfaction of our members.
The IFUT preference for hearings under the ‘Cush’ process is for the scheduling of oral hearings. However, contained within the agreed protocol is a provision for cases to be addressed by written submission. We are currently, as needs must, considering this approach with some recent cases.
Finally, while the ‘Cush’ recommendations and the supporting adjudication process does not right all the wrongs in the University sector it is a useful tool for Lecturers to consider when addressing certain aspects of their employment terms.