TUI members in Institutes of Technology vote to engage in campaign of industrial action over second 'flex' hour

By piofficer, Thursday, 19th April 2018 | 0 comments

Members of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) in the Institute of Technology sector have voted overwhelmingly in a national ballot (by a margin of 96% to 4%) to engage in a campaign of industrial action over unsustainable workload.

From September, members will deliver, at a maximum, the nationally agreed weekly norm of class contact hours for the relevant grade/s in the Institute of Technology sector.

Under the CPA and subsequent national agreements (two) so-called “flex” hours, in addition to the weekly norm, were imposed, creating unsustainable and disproportionate workload.

Under a 2016 agreement between the TUI and the Department of Education and Skills, one of the two additional ‘flex’ hours was re-designated to duties within contract other than teaching/lecturing. The same agreement committed to a review by March 2017 that should have re-designated the second ‘flex’ hour. However, this deadline was not adhered to.

Delivery of the additional “flex” lecturing hours as well as giving rise to unsustainable workload has also significantly impaired service to students.

Speaking today, TUI President Joanne Irwin said:

‘The Institute of Technology sector has suffered severe cuts to funding, which has had a severely damaging effect both on the working conditions of lecturers and the educational experience of students.

At 16 hours (Lecturer) and 18 hours (Assistant Lecturer), the lecturing hours of staff have long been far above international norms. Moreover, each hour of lecturing requiring a multiple of hours for the associated preparation, reflection, assessment and feedback. 

To make matters worse, under successive national agreements, lecturers were required to ‘flex’ up by two lecturing hours above these already excessive norms. As a result of a negotiated agreement between TUI and the Department of Education and Skills in May 2016, one of these two hours was re-designated to other contractual duties from January 2017. Also as a result of the same agreement, which was endorsed by TUI members in a national ballot, a review of matters relevant to lecturing that was to have regard to the usage of the second hour for duties other than teaching was to be completed by March 2017.

Over two years on, despite the consistent availability of TUI, this review has not been completed and re-designation of the second flex hour has not taken effect. In this ballot, members have made clear their strong feelings on this issue. The key element of the resulting industrial action is that members will deliver no more than standard lecturing hours (16 or 18) from the commencement of the next academic year.

This unsustainable workload, as well as diminishing the time for and quality of service to students, is causing high levels of stress among academic staff. To add insult to injury, those lecturers who entered the profession after 1st January 2011 continue to suffer pay discrimination.’

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