DIT lab assistants to commence industrial action at Dublin Institute of Technology

IMPACT industrial relations officer Shane Lambert
“Any further delay by the Department of Education and Skills would effectively undermine the Labour Court recommendation and prolong an avoidable and disruptive industrial action” – IMPACT industrial relations officer Shane Lambert

Laboratory aides at the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), who are represented by IMPACT trade union, will commence industrial action next Monday (12th October) in a dispute over the failure of DIT management to implement a binding Labour Court recommendation.

The recommendation, issued in June this year, deals with a proposal for the re-grading of staff, and was made under the dispute resolution provisions of the Haddington Road Agreement.

IMPACT official Shane Lambert explained “The Court’s decision backs a proposal on re-grading, which will actually reduce costs at DIT in the longer term. This binding recommendation provides for a review of the grade within new organisational structures at DIT.

“The Court’s recommendation also recognises that the proposed re-grading would produce considerable cost savings within a relatively short time. Despite this, however, the Department of Education and Skills (DES) told DIT back in July that it was not in a position to give sanction to the employer to implement the recommendation.

“We exhausted all avenues of engagement with DIT on the issue and we’ve achieved a binding Labour Court recommendation which vindicates our position. Several months have passed and any further discussions on this matter should be around the immediate implementation of the recommendation,” he said.

Mr Lambert said that the union remained open to discussions with management on the implementation of the Court’s recommendation. He said that any further delay by the Department of Education and Skills would effectively undermine the Labour Court recommendation and prolong an avoidable and disruptive industrial action.

Mr Lambert said the union served a longer notice in order to minimise disruption to students in the early part of the academic year. He explained that a ballot for industrial action in August, among members of the union’s Municipal Employees division, allows for full strike action. The action commencing next Monday is a limited industrial action and provides for staff to return to their original duties before they began to take on new duties about 15 years ago.

Mr Lambert explained, “The laboratory aides were originally specialist cleaners dealing with laboratory, workshop and kitchen equipment, but their role has expanded to include duties that were previously done by technicians. The industrial action will involve reverting to their original ‘fetch, carry and clean’ role.”