The Head of the UCD SIPTU section in UCD, Dr Kieran Allen, was unsuccessful in his bid to become General Secretary of SIPTU. The election, which took place at the end of May, was won by Mr Joe O’Flynn.
Mr O’Flynn defended his position to be re-elected General Secretary by a margin of three-to-one. Dr Allen felt this was not entirely surprising as he was “trying to bring about change in the union and [he] was up against the whole union machine”.
Dr Allen felt that it was going to be a difficult election saying that “the odds were very much tacked against me…[you had] someone standing who was an individual steward against somebody who was the existing General Secretary and the Mayor of Cork.”
He had hoped that by standing for election, it would “build momentum for change in the union”. However, Dr Allen felt that the election was a positive experience for him, despite being defeated, as he had the chance to, “promote a sort of alternative outlook on the union”.
It would be Dr Allen’s intention to, “get out of partnership which [he] thinks is weakening the unions and has led to a decline in union membership”. He hopes to see a union that “stands up to the government and employers, rather than one that becomes too close to them”.
Dr Allen has not ruled out the prospect of running for the position again when the next election is held in six years time, expressing that “obviously [he] would consider it”. However, his main issue at present is trying to bring about change within the union as well as holding his position as head of the UCD SIPTU section.
Last year SIPTU was involved in a despute between the university and ground staff workers who had been receiving less than an agreed amount of payment for a number of years.
This resulted in the workers being left underpaid to the sum of approximately €10,000. They had come close to an industrial strike but this was cancelled after to negotiations at the Labour Relations Commission.
SIPTU represents over 200,000 workers over virtually all professional sectors, including construction workers, university lecturers and retail workers.