A ballot for industrial action in July returned a vote of 85% of members backing industrial action, with the aim of securing a comprehensive job evaluation exercise.
Fórsa has served notice to individual Institutes of Technology that, from next Monday (15th October) members will not engage in any form of communication including making and taking phone calls, video conferencing, or responding to or forwarding emails.
This follows more than three years of efforts to ensure the implementation of the commitment agreed in May 2015, as part of the negotiations that lead to the Lansdowne Road Agreement, in relation to job evaluation for library, clerical, administrative and support grades.
In a letter of notice to the colleges, Fórsa official Stella Griffin said, “After three years of raising the issue - and alerting the Minister to the inevitable consequences of a failure to deliver on the commitment made - we appear to have little choice but to resort to such action.
“We have exercised enormous patience while trying to reach agreement with employers on an approach to deliver on the commitment. The response to date has been woefully inadequate.
“We believe that we have no other choice but to resort to industrial action following receipt of a mandate for action up to and including strike action from our members,” she said.
The purpose of job evaluation is to measure whether or not a specific post is correctly graded. It assesses the skills and responsibilities required of a particular post, rather than the individual performing it.
Since 2008 the higher education sector has seen a very large increase in the number of students enrolled while staff numbers fell. Stella explained that this has seen a significant increase in total productivity as library, professional and support staff bore the brunt of these developments.
"The sector relied on the goodwill and dedication of its staff with many individuals assuming additional and more onerous duties without recompense. This situation was exacerbated by the failure to fill higher grade posts over the past number of years. In some cases posts were filled by agency staff on a temporary basis,” she said.