ST Angela’s staff began their strike action this week.
The staff of the college held a press conference on Tuesday, at Sligo’s Clarion Hotel in conjunction with the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) while picketers protested outside the college.
At the press conference posters read “Why Don’t NUIG talk to us?” and “Is it because we are women?”.
The issue surrounding the staff’s industrial action has arisen from the alleged demotion of staff from University Lecturer to University Teacher, in a proposed amalgamation with NUI Galway.
The St Angela’s staff have been further angered since they claim that NUI Galway have failed to engage with the TUI.
A statement given by NUIG said “it is not the intention of NUI Galway to negotiate or enter into collective agreements with any trade union that is not currently recognised by the University.”
Gerry Quinn, the TUI President chaired Tuesday’s press conference for St Angela’s staff.
He pledged “further strike action will follow as required if needs are not met.”
Mr Quinn said that he and his colleagues “exhausted all other avenues” before pursing industrial action.
Annette Dolan, the Deputy General Secretary, said that “they [NUIG] refuse to talk to the TUI.”
“All our lecturers wish to be equal. These measures will be a demotion for the vast majority of our members [in St Angela’s], the vast majority of whom are women, and NUIG have a particular record in regards to women.”
The theme of demotion was also taken up by Lisa Winters O’Donnell, the TUI branch Secretary for St Angela’s.
“St Angela’s have experienced, full qualified lecturers. NUIG want to demote a mainly female staff without consultation,” she said.
Dr Brian O’Boyle, the Branch chair for St Angela’s TUI accused NUIG of breaching staff’s rights.
“There is a bigger issue here. Public servants and all workers have a basic right to have representation from their union. Other workers will see this and know that it is wrong,” he said.
Support and solidarity was also given from some members of Sligo County Council who were present at the press conference on Tuesday. Sinn Féin TD Michael Colreavey also pledged his support to the St Angela’s staff.
“I have a strong union background and I am also anxious to see top quality education in the north west. I will be behind you 100%,” Deputy Colreavey said.
Independent Cllr Declan Bree pointed to the council’s representative on the board at NUIG as a possible aid to the St Angela’s staff.
“You certainly have our support across the political spectrum. Sligo County Council has a representative on the board at NUIG along with Mayo and Leitrim. We can speak out that level. You can be assured of our support,” Cllr Bree commented.
Meanwhile the proposed amalgamation (and status of lecturers as teacher) was set to be signed on March 31.
Considering the industrial action taken by staff, this is now set to be implemented between March 31 and the Autumn semester at St Angela’s.