Academic staff in TCD are seeking intervention by the Workplace Relations Commission to mediate a solution on proposed changes to the academic year and holiday arrangements that will seriously impact on time available for research work.
The changes, part of the new Trinity Education Project, impact on holiday arrangements and affect staff represented by IFUT, SIPTU and Unite unions.
Academic staff in Trinity do not have designated annual-leave days, but request time off from their Head of School. The College argues that staff should take holidays normally during Summer, but this is a key time for academics to concentrate on progressing their research. The new structures will also remove June from the academic year period in future. But for this year the interim academic structure ensures that the summer session is reduced significantly as supplemental examinations are scheduled to occur from mid-August.
IFUT have proposed a “co-operation allowance” of €500 or five days of annual leave on a “once-off basis” and that members should be able to decide which option they prefer.
Under the IFUT proposal, a staff member could put €500 on their collegeTCard or an alternative non-cash benefit, in line with guidelines from Revenue and this would not impact on higher education pay limits.
“The changes to the summer period amount to an arbitrary change in the terms and conditions of staff. It must be discussed and negotiated with staff.” John Walsh, Chairperson of TCD IFUT, explained.
The claim for a once-off co-operation allowance would “recognise the additional workload and commitment for academic staff, not just for supplemental exams but all the assessments under the current proposals” which have to be submitted before the 6th of September.
“As September approaches staff are still grappling with the uncertainty of the Trinity Education Project and deadlines of management. We hope the College will see sense and take a constructive approach at the WRC, as continued confusion and uncertainty will impact negatively on staff, students and college alike,” he said.