Industrial action ballot called off by University of Limerick union

Rebecca Laffan

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Rebecca Laffan

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rebecca.laffan@limerickleader.ie

Industrial action ballot called off by University of Limerick union

THE BALLOT for industrial action which was set to be put to University of Limerick staff this week has been called off. 
The decision was announced to over 200 members of the university’s union, UL-Unite, at an emergency meeting this Tuesday. 
The announcement was made after UL President Des Fitzgerald confirmed that the current restructuring plan of the university is now “paused” and acknowledged that “mistakes were made” in the much-questioned formulation of the plan. 
In an email addressed to colleagues on Friday, December 6, in relation to the restructuring plan of the university’s schools and departments, Dr Des Fitzgerald said: “The Governing Authority at its meeting today discussed the recently announced restructuring proposals and related communications received from the University Community.
“I acknowledged to the Governing Authority that mistakes were made in the formulation, presentation and communication of the proposed restructuring.
“I also acknowledged the concerns of the wider community and I confirmed the current plan is now paused. The Governing Authority unanimously agreed that a working group comprising stakeholders (academic, technical and support staff of the University) will be established to oversee a programme of collaborative engagement in relation to restructuring.
“The terms of reference and composition of the working group will be presented to the Governing Authority at its April 2020 meeting and shared with Unite,” he concluded. 
Prior to this address, it was revealed that staff were set to be balloted for potential strike action as they rejected UL’s Executive Committee’s offer for an extended consultation period on the proposed condensing of the university’s 24 schools and departments into 10.
UL-Unite rejected the offer due to lack of details given about what said consultation would consist of and no further details about what reorganisation process would involve.
According to a UL-Unite member, the union has voted a lack of confidence in the university’s Executive Committee. 
“There’s still a lot of ill-will against the Executive Committee, at the recent meeting new ways to put pressure on the committee were proposed for issues surrounding consultation of the university’s statutory generally and the failure to introduce evaluations of jobs for administrative staff,” they said.
“There’s an overall lack of confidence that the university has actually done anything to solve those issues and that affects a lot of people. They really need to start consulting about the reorganisation now and start informing us staff, there’s definitely still a lot of tension.”
President Fitzgerald is the Chief Executive Officer of the university, and is ultimately responsible for all of the operations of UL. 
It was originally proposed to present the restructuring plans to the university’s Governing Authority on January 31, and the plans were presented to staff on November 5.
This consultation period of less than three months was branded as “bogus” and “fake” by UL-Unite chairman Ger Slattery.