IFUT Conference 2018 - A New Approach to Debate and Decision-Making

The snow is barely melted - and it’s IFUT Conference time again.

Sometimes a year is so busy that the number of issues dealt with pile nearly as high as the files to be processed before the May 25thGDPR deadline!

Remember the Pay Talks! That was the first major challenge of the Summer following last year’s Conference.  IFUT not only addressed key issues of pay restoration, but also won agreement to progress a whole range of other issues.

Under Art 1. 4 of the Agreement on Work-Life Balance IFUT won buy-in to a requirement that ‘Management in each Sector will… establish mechanisms to monitor progress in relation to Gender Balance in Career Progression.’

Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor subsequently established a Working Group on Gender Equality at Third-Level, while IFUT resolved a longstanding equality case for one of our members in NUIG  pursued through the normal labour relations process.

On Cush we proposed and won acceptance of action to address undue delays on establishing an Adjudicator process on fixed-term and part-time work in lecturing and this process has now come to fruition.

On Researchers the Oversight Group accepted the need for a discussion between IFUT and the IUA which will facilitate the beginnings of a real effort to progress the longstanding issues affecting Researchers.

This is just some of the progress achieved over the past year.  But what has it got to do with Conference 2018?

Over the past year IFUT has undergone a transformation to modernise our administration.  We have a new General Secretary and Deputy General Secretary.  Fiona Lee is making a huge contribution to our staff team.  And we are all kept in line by the inimitable Phyllis Russell!

We are also seeking to increase the involvement of our members in our work.  Our Researchers’ Committee, for instance, will play a key role in the work ahead on this area.

This year we are transforming our Conference also.  We are delighted to welcome Higher Education Minister, Mary Mitchell O’Connor to address our Conference on the many issues she is seeking to prioritise. 

We are holding a special workshop with key speakers to gain an additional outside perspectives on the common issues facing Third-Level Education.

Our annual national coming together is a vital part of acknowledging the work and successes of IFUT, as outlined above, and steeling ourselves for the many issues that remain to be resolved

This year’s motions highlight the many priorities for the year ahead.

  • There are five motions on the many issues facing Researchers, calling for awell-considered andattractive career structure for current and future Researchers.” and to secure employment rights and a real career framework for Researchers in Ireland.”
  • The crisis in Third-Level Funding is addressed in calls on the Government to ‘prioritise public investment in Higher Education and implement option one of the Cassells’ report involving a long-term commitment to public funding.’
  • On temporary and rolling contracts we will debate how to make staff secure in their posts at University through CIDs or permanency.’
  • Lack of transparency in appointment of University Committees is addressed in a motion seeking“to ensure that all such appointments are made in an equitable fashion.”
  • Another motion highlights the need to resolve “Collective Bargaining Rights” for IFUT in DCU
  • International solidarity is shown with our fellow lecturers in the UK and Northern Ireland on threats to pensions to draw attention to the strike action and to explain why the proposed changes in pensions should not be countenanced under any circumstances”either in the UK or here in Ireland. 

There are many other motions.  Those on age discrimination and excessive university expenditure on legal fees are particularly relevant. 

This is clearly illustrated in the disgraceful decision of the President of UCD to drag a case of age discrimination before an Appeals process rather than accept the clear ruling of the Labour Court against the college.  IFUT is determined to fight this case and highlight the diversion of taxpayers’ money by UCD -  away from students and education and into wasteful legal expense.

The message then is clear.  We have achieved major and significant progress and gains over the past year.  But the issues still remaining pile as high as the GDPR files and will require dedicated work in the months ahead.

That’s why we need YOUR attendance on May 12th next at Conference 2018 - to Listen, Debate, Decide - and to make IFUT even stronger and more effective for the battles ahead.