Technological Universities Bill 2015: Report Stage (Continued)

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 904 No. 1

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  7 o’clock

Deputy Jonathan O'Brien: Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien I move amendment No. 4:

In page 11, between lines 21 and 22, to insert the following:
“ “Programme” means a recognised course of study;”.

  Amendment put and declared lost.

Deputy Jonathan O'Brien: Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien I move amendment No. 5:

In page 11, between lines 25 and 26, to insert the following:
“ “Researchers” means tenured officers of the institute;”.

  Amendment put and declared lost.

Deputy Jonathan O'Brien: Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien I move amendment No. 6:

In page 11, between lines 25 and 26, to insert the following:
“ “School” means organised grouping of academic units within the institute;”.

  Amendment put and declared lost.

Deputy Jonathan O'Brien: Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien I move amendment No. 7:

In page 12, to delete lines 3 to 7 and substitute the following:
“ “student”, in relation to an institute, or technological university, means a person registered as a student by the institute or technological university or a full-time officer of the Students’ Union who was first elected to his or her office while he or she was a registered student by the institute or technological university;”.

This is just a technical amendment. As a result of the removal of the word "merged", we put in a new section to reflect that.

Deputy Jan O'Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan My amendment No. 8 is grouped with Deputy O'Brien's. Can I speak to my amendment?

Acting Chairman (Deputy Robert Troy): Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy Yes, amendments Nos. 7 and 8 may be discussed together.

Deputy Jan O'Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan Deputy O'Brien raised this issue during discussion on Committee Stage, so I considered what he had said and following further discussion I also met the student union representatives. I propose amendment No. 8, which will have the effect of deleting "or appointed" from the definition of student set out in section 2, in line with Deputy O'Brien's proposed amendment. I think we are in agreement on that.

Deputy Jonathan O'Brien: Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien Yes, we are in agreement. I will withdraw my amendment.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Deputy Jan O'Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan I move amendment No. 8:

In page 12, line 5, to delete “or appointed”.

  Amendment agreed to.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Robert Troy): Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy Amendments Nos. 9, 36 to 39, inclusive, 84, 86, 87, 98, and 109 are related and may be discussed together, by agreement.

Deputy Jonathan O'Brien: Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien I move amendment No. 9:

In page 12, between lines 12 and 13, to insert the following:
“ “Trade Union” means a registered representative body with a negotiation licence.”.

This is something we discussed on Committee Stage and which we discussed with the officials. The Minister has taken on board some of our concerns in respect of it, particularly around the trade union side of it. Her amendment No. 37 is designed to include all trade unions and we are very happy to support that.

  Amendment No. 9 relates to trade unions. Amendment No. 36 mandates consultation with trade unions. Amendment No. 37 removes the term "staff association". I know we discussed this with the Minister's officials before Report Stage and one of the reasons we were given for this being a common phrase in legislation was that trade unions do not cater for college presidents. However, having done a bit of research, I am aware that a number of college presidents are currently members of trade unions. That means the rationale for having staff associations, based on the fact that college presidents would not be members of trade unions, is counter-productive when we know some of them are members of trade unions. We will be pushing this amendment to remove the term "staff associations". Amendments Nos. 84, 87 and 98 are designed to exclude the term "staff associations" and to protect the terms and conditions of teaching staff in the new technological universities.

Deputy Jan O'Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan As discussed on Committee Stage, Deputy O'Brien's amendments Nos. 9, 38, 84, 87, 98 and 109 all relate either to the definition of trade union or use of the term "staff association". In all such cases, the standard wording used can be found in a wide range of similar legislation. Recent examples include the County Enterprise Boards (Dissolution) Act 2014, the Industrial Development (Forfás Dissolution) Act 2014 and the Education and Training Boards Act 2013. The proposed amendments would have the effect of varying the standard wording and for that reason I cannot support them.

To be clear, the use of the term "trade union or staff association" in the Bill does not in any way undermine the position of the trade unions, which represent the staff of the institutions concerned. Rather, it is included to ensure that all relevant staff interests are consulted, where appropriate. While I understand that there are currently no staff associations within the institute of technology sector, that is not to say there will not be in future. The Bill should reflect this possibility. With regard to amendments Nos. 36 and 39 put forward by Deputy O'Brien, these relate to the establishment of dispute resolution procedures by technological universities. Amendment No. 36 would remove from that section the standard reference to staff associations as well as trade unions. It also unnecessarily distinguishes between the dispute resolution procedures that would apply to staff and those that would apply to students.


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