"After seven years of teaching and research in several positions and departments at my university I was supposed to be made redundant at the end of the academic year 2016/17. Being a member of IFUT I contacted my branch secretary in February 2017 to explore any possible claims I may have towards a contract of indefinite duration. He was very sympathetic to my case, thought I had a reasonable claim, and forwarded my inquiry to the IFUT head office. Mike Jennings, who was still General Secretary at the time, contacted me in due course to arrange a meeting in March 2017 at which we would take a close look at the various contracts I held during those seven years.
In his view there was no doubt that I was entitled to a contract of indefinite duration based on my history of employment with the university. He contacted the HR Department to outline his reading of my case and to look for a meeting to locally discuss the situation. Unfortunately, the HR Department was very unwilling to engage, let alone meet with us, and three months passed during which we were unable to establish a proper exchange of views with them, despite several attempts both in writing and by phone. Only by the end of June 2017 did HR finally respond to our enquiries and rejected any entitlement of mine to a contract of indefinite duration and advised that my employment would terminate in accordance with my current temporary contract.
IFUT assured me that my case was at the top of their list and due to his upcoming retirement by the end of August 2017 Mike Jennings forwarded my case to Frank Jones in July 2017. In the light of HR's clear rejection Frank Jones decided it was time to submit an appeal to the Adjudication Services of the Workplace Relations Commission, while still seeking to resolve the issue locally and prior to the actual termination of my contract, which by then was due in a few weeks. No further progress was made and my contract terminated in the middle of September 2017. In response we did not accept that this is a redundancy situation and IFUT proceeded to refer this matter to the WRC under the Unfair Dismissals legislation.
Not much happened over the coming months as we awaited a hearing date at the Workplace Relations Commission. Finally, we were given a date for the end of January 2018. Frustratingly though, the employer's side was granted a request for assigning an alternative date due to the inconvenience of the allocated location for the hearing. This resulted in another few months without any kind of movement on the matter. Throughout this time Frank Jones remained in touch with me to make sure I was always up to date on any developments and we were fully prepared for the eventual hearing date.
In May 2018 we finally had our day at the WRC. However, the hearing wasn't particularly successful because the employer's side tried to avoid having to deal with the actual case of Unfair Dismissal and instead argued that the WRC was not the right place to deal with this matter. It was Frank Jones' view that the employer's side knew that they were wrong with regard to my dismissal and tried to frustrate and prolong the process for as much as possible, perhaps in the hope that we would give up. Nevertheless, Frank Jones addressed their objections carefully and within the allocated time frame. This was answered again with several weeks of silence.
Suddenly in mid-July the employer offered to settle the dispute by means of compensation. That, however, wasn't agreeable with me and Frank Jones was prepared to continue the fight on my behalf. In fact, with the employer's side slowly appearing to come around, Frank worked very hard over the next couple of months, and in constant contact with me, to negotiate with a HR representative an agreement both locally and prior to the next scheduled hearing date at the WRC in early October. During this time he managed to arrive at an arrangement with the HR Department which satisfactorily addresses both a compensation for my time of unemployment as well as the matter of re-employment within the university and the award of a contract of indefinite duration.
Overall, I couldn't be happier with this result and I am very grateful to IFUT and Frank Jones, in particular, for representing me in this matter with such effort, diligence and, ultimately, success."
- IFUT Member