Union seeks detailed discussion of workload framework

Academic members of the DCU SIPTU Section Committee and sector organizer Louise O’Reilly met last week with Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences Executive Dean John Doyle, with Gareth Yore representing DCU Human Resources, in the first substantial engagement to discuss the HSS workload document.

The Section Committee and Ms O’Reilly informed management at the meeting on 10th July that we were seeking detailed, structured consultation on the nature of any new Faculty workload document, and stated that union members in the meantime should expect to have their work allocated and evaluated according to existing practice in the Faculty’s various Schools, some of which have highly developed and transparent workload documents.

The union disputed management’s contention that the Faculty workload document and process was no more than a pilot exercise. It rejected the assertion that discussion of the framework by the Faculty Board, combined with the holding of information meetings, constituted meaningful consultation with staff, and pointed out that the framework purported fundamentally to change the conditions of employment of staff.

It referred management to the survey of HSS staff in which participants expressed strong reservations on the framework’s capacity to capture and express their work.

It also stated that members of staff in other parts of the University had raised strong objections to new framework documents.

SIPTU academics from across the University have previously voted to reject the Faculty’s proposed workload measurement system, and have called for a University-wide negotiation between management and the union to agree a workload evaluation process for academics. In addition, SIPTU has instructed members that they are not obliged to complete workload forms circulated as part of the workload process, and purported to be used by line managers to determine work allocations for the coming academic year.

Members of the committee said that they were not opposed to workload frameworks. School-level workload documents had been created cooperatively and had evolved reflexively in response to the many variations in working conditions across a multiplicity of disciplines.

They said that the Faculty one-size-fits-all document and its mode of introduction represented a shift in culture from one of collegiate cooperation to one of top-down managerialism, and pointed out that academics in other jurisdictions increasingly were raising strongly relevant objections, concerning the fundamental role and quality of public education, to this method of organizing university work.

The union representatives reiterated that they were in favour of true transparency, achieved through valid workload processes, for all members of staff. They told management that staff were under no obligation to cooperate in the new framework, and formally requested a process of detailed discussions with a view to achieving an agreed workload document or documents.

Dr Doyle and Mr Yore said that they would note the union’s position and revert.

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