UCD was expected to open all buildings and services on campus today, Tuesday 24th November, despite a day of industrial strike action taking place nationwide.
The strike was supported by a significant proportion of staff members. However, the university plans to proceed as normal, despite the staff shortage that may arise over the course of the day. Unions participating in the strike include SIPTU, the Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT) and the Technical, Engineering and Electrical Union (TEEU).
UCD Registrar, Dr Philip Nolan, sent an email to all staff and students on 20th November stating that the university would open in spite of the strikes, and would try to maintain services as close as possible to their everyday standard. He explained that the university’s decision was taken as the strike date is extremely close to assessments, deadlines and end-of-semester exams.
UCD Sociology lecturer and head of SIPTU’s educational sector, Dr Kieran Allen, said that as far as the trade unions were concerned, the university would be closed on the day of action. “The registrar can issue any emails he wants, as far as we’re concerned,” stated Dr Allen. “The staff are not working, there’s a strike, our pay is being cut, and the university will not be opened.”
When asked whether students would be allowed to pass the picket line, Dr Allen revealed that striking workers would urge students and non-union members to support their cause by not crossing picket lines outside the campus.
Officials from SIPTU had also complained to the university about management pressurising members into telling them in advance whether they support the strike or not.
Dr Allen explained the complaint by saying “the fact of the matter is that we have given, as is required, seven days notice to strike action. The normal procedure is that the union issues strike notice. That has been done and as far as we’re concerned, we’re on strike.”
Students’ Union President, Gary Redmond, said that while the university respects the decision made by each of the staff unions, the university had planned to maintain the usual standards of services for students.
“Obviously, there will be a certain amount of staff taking an involvement in the strikes [but] we don’t know what level that will be,” explained Redmond. “But the university has guaranteed us that they’ll try and maintain as close to possible [the] current level of service.”
The day of action forms part of a national campaign organised by the various trade unions. The unions are protesting against further public sector wage cuts planned by the government of up to seven per cent, and unconfirmed reports suggest that a second day of strike action will be held in forthcoming weeks.