NUIM IFUT meeting rejects Croke Park Agreement

The Maynooth branch of IFUT has decided to reject the "Croke Park Agreement" after a lively extraordinary general meeting on Tuesday 17 May where the issues were debated thoroughly. The members present voted unanimously to reject the deal, save for 5 abstentions. The arguments made for rejecting the CPA in the re-ballot currently underway include, among others:

- The "Agreement" permanently removes the protection now given by our contracts to our terms and conditions of employment. This protection has been tested in the Supreme Court and shown to work, and is a major reason why management are so keen for us to agree to abandon these rights.

- Despite the economic crisis, the "Agreement" does nothing to save money in the academic sphere. Instead, what it does do is to create new workplace cultures and management structures that will prevent us from working to the high professional standards we currently follow, demoralise staff and lower the standard of education we offer students.

- The experience from other countries (such as Finland and Australia) where similar changes have been introduced shows how destructive they are to academic life, the quality of education and the experience of being either a student or an academic.

- The "Agreement" does not protect against salary cuts, which are provided for by its Clause 28, stating that implementation of the Agreement on the part of the Government is "subject to no currently unforeseen budgetary deterioration" - a deterioration which has been happening non-stop for the past two years and seems set to continue. However we vote, salary cuts are very much on the agenda.

- By contrast, the threat of compulsory redundancies is impractical, given (1) the effect of increased student numbers with restrictions on recruitment and (2) our existing contractual protections.

- The preamble to the "Application" of the "Agreement" pretends to pay tribute to how well Irish universities perform and to the virtue of collegialitiy, but the provisions which follow seek to dismantle how those same universities now perform and to substitute managerial memos for collegiality.

Nothing in this deal - or in the context of 2011 - persuades us that we should do other than we did in 2010: vote "no" and hold the legally binding contracts which we now have and which protect the dedicated, professional and collegial approach to work that we aim for. The alternative is to sign away rights which we hold until we sign them away for the empty promise that the government will not declare that there has been an "unforeseen budgetary deterioration" entitling it to unilaterally abandon its promises.

With a committed, informed and courageous leadership that truly serves our members' interests, we can defend who we are and what we do - and we should not be afraid to do so.

We encourage our colleagues to reject this punitive, pointless and destructive "Agreement".

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Alastair Fraser

NUI Maynooth IFUT Branch Secretary