Mandate Trade Union, pilule the trade union working on behalf of the UCD Student Bar staff, has served Strike notice on UCD. The strike is due to commence on the week following the AGM that took place on Monday 24th September. In a press release published on Friday 21st September, Mandate Trade Union announced that the staff would be striking based on “the failure to pay outstanding wages and redundancy monies to staff who were let go at the end of August.”
Staff of the Student bar were advised in June that the bar could not continue to function in its current vein due to significant estimated losses of €120,000. After the staff were informed of the closure, a Human Resources Representative was appointed to the Student Club committee which runs the Student Bar.
Seán O’ Driscoll of Athrú consultancy was the HR representative given the task of negotiating on behalf of the bar committee. According to Joe Donnelly, the divisional organizer of Mandate Union, “after two meetings the issues were referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a series of meetings there culminated in an agreement being reached on 15th August in relation to redundancy terms for the staff.”
Donnelly claims that the staff of the student bar reluctantly accepted the redundancy from 31st August as they were informed that the alternative was the liquidation of the entire operation. In response to the question as to why the bar staff haven’t received their redundancy yet Rachel Breslin, Student Union President and member of the Student Club Committee which runs the Bar, said “there is no money in the account to pay that.” Breslin was unsure as to how the situation may be resolved but from the information that is before her with regard to the relationship that the committee has with the university, she believes that the money will end up coming from a university bailout. Donnelly maintains that the lack of payment to the workers from the bar is “extremely unfair to the staff concerned who have given many years of good service to UCD Students Bar, some of whom are now experiencing difficulties with mortgage payments.”
In terms of the options that are now available for the premises that previously held the bar, Breslin said “there is still a place that is the best place on campus for holding concerts, faculty days and quizzes and we as a Students’ Union are not willing to stand for the disappearance of that facility.” She discussed options with the Bursar of UCD, Gerry O’ Brien, including, “how the redundancy can be paid, how the creditors can be paid and how the debt to the SU can be settled.”
Breslin sees that failure to pay redundancy to the staff as a large issue restricting the progress of discussing bar issues. “Students want to socialize but we also have staff who have been agreed redundancy and who haven’t had it. Who’s more important? I wouldn’t automatically say it’s the students in terms of real need.”
Mr. Donnelly of the Mandate Union has written to the President of UCD, Dr. Hugh Brady, requesting his intervention. Donnelly concluded, “In the meantime, the redundant staff have voted unanimously for industrial action as they appear to have been left with no alternative form of action at this stage.”
– Peter Hamilton