SIPTU Education Sector Organiser, Karl Byrne, said: “Members of the SIPTU Education Sector are calling on the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, to co-ordinate a universal approach, in full compliance with public health guidelines, on the delivery of ‘face to face’ teaching.
“Our members have been concerned by recent announcements from some higher-level institutions in relation to a return to ‘face-to face’ teaching this September which seems to run contrary to the current public health advice.
“Our members throughout the Sector want a return to normal teaching. However, this must only be done when it is safe to do so. As a union we are deeply invested in the welfare of students and staff throughout the higher-level education sector. We must insist that any reopening plans fully comply with the current public health advice and the roadmap for reopening outlined by the government.
“SIPTU representatives have been engaging constructively with higher-level education colleges as they plan for the delivery of their academic programmes in the new academic year. The ‘blended’ and remote learning approaches put in place due to the crisis remain subject to consultation and negotiation with our representatives.
He added: “It is important to point out that higher-level institutions did not close during this crisis and that a significant number of our members have continued to work on campuses and many others have been working remotely. We will be insisting on proper resourcing and safe workloads for staff to carry out their roles should there be a continuation of remote working into the future.
“Before any on-campus lecture can take place there is a need for a large amount of work by SIPTU members in numerous roles including in teaching, administration, cleaning, and audio-visual. We will not accept any institution going beyond the Government’s health advice and returning to normal lecturing and teaching based merely on commercial concerns.”