New Events

National

no events posted in last week

Blog Feeds

Anti-Empire

Anti-Empire

offsite link Russia’s Loss at Kharkov Highlights Cr... Tue May 17, 2022 02:15 | Anti-Empire

offsite link Strelkov: Russian Mil Can Not Replace Ru... Mon May 16, 2022 22:08 | Igor Strelkov

offsite link Russian Army Is Attempting to Fight a Ma... Mon May 16, 2022 18:09 | Michael Kofman

offsite link Russia Holds Over 1700 Documented Ukrain... Sun May 15, 2022 22:53 | Anti-Empire

offsite link What Could Be More Truthful Than a Govâ€... Sat May 14, 2022 22:27 | Anti-Empire

Anti-Empire >>

The Saker
A bird's eye view of the vineyard

offsite link Sitrep: Russia Tue May 17, 2022 17:57 | amarynth
Notes by Amarynth Russia?s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, is planning to discuss the potential withdrawal of the country from the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the World

offsite link After the NATO War is Over Tue May 17, 2022 17:36 | amarynth
By Batiushka for the Saker Blog Make no mistake about it: The tragic war that is currently taking place on Ukrainian battlefields is not between the Russian Federation and the

offsite link Gonzalo Lira: The Pentagon Says: Russia No?But China Yes Tue May 17, 2022 11:41 | amarynth

offsite link President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Meeting of the heads of state of the Collective Security Treaty ... Mon May 16, 2022 19:08 | amarynth
CSTO summit Taking part in the meeting, timed to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the Collective Security Treaty and the 20th anniversary of the organisation, were the heads of Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. The main focus of the summit was on key issues

offsite link Death by a thousand cuts: where is the west?s Ukraine strategy? Mon May 16, 2022 17:26 | amarynth
The pounding, daily western narratives on ‘Ukrainian wins’ and ‘Russian losses’ underpins the lack of an actual, cohesive Grand Strategy against Moscow. By Pepe Escobar, posted with the author’s permission

The Saker >>

Public Inquiry
Interested in maladministration. Estd. 2005

offsite link Fergus Finlay and the maternity hospital ‘gotcha’ trap

offsite link Irish Examiner and fake news Anthony

offsite link Labour Party: The unvarnished truth Anthony

offsite link Humanity: Zero chance of survival Anthony

offsite link RTE gives balance – accidentally? Anthony

Public Inquiry >>

Human Rights in Ireland
A Blog About Human Rights

offsite link UN human rights chief calls for priority action ahead of climate summit Sat Oct 30, 2021 17:18 | Human Rights

offsite link 5 Year Anniversary Of Kem Ley?s Death Sun Jul 11, 2021 12:34 | Human Rights

offsite link Poor Living Conditions for Migrants in Southern Italy Mon Jan 18, 2021 10:14 | Human Rights

offsite link Right to Water Mon Aug 03, 2020 19:13 | Human Rights

offsite link Human Rights Fri Mar 20, 2020 16:33 | Human Rights

Human Rights in Ireland >>

What is to be done about the Union of Students in Ireland?

category national | rights, freedoms and repression | news report author Sunday April 01, 2007 14:27author by Red Wedge Report this post to the editors

This week, student union representatives from all around Ireland will head to Bundoran for the annual congress of the Union of Students of Ireland (USI).


The congress is taking place at a critical time for the organisation. The Union has industrial relations difficulties. SIPTU, the trade union affiliated to USI which provides free representation for USI members as well as vital solidarity in times of need, is taking a case of unfair dismissal against a former member of USI staff. A hearing is set for April 16th at the Labour court.

The Union has political difficulties. It might seem obvious that a general election year would be a critical time for the Student movement to mobilise and attempt to apply pressure to gain concessions from the political system. Organised student pressure has been noticeably absent in recent time. The result? No discussion what so ever of student issues in that national debate facing into the general election.

That we need a national students union is obvious. It is hard to imagine how fees would have been defeated in 2003 without a national co-ordinating body for that campaign. The malaise facing USI is the malaise facing the Student Unions who make it up. Lack of participation by students, lack of student campaigns and a failure to realise the potential power of the student movement effect many student unions in Ireland. It is hardly surprising, then, that a similar malaise has embraced the national union. Students who complain that USI “does noting” ought to remember that proposals for action are often blocked by constituent unions at USIs national council, the representative body of students unions that runs USI between congresses.

Reading through the Clar or manual for this years congress, it is difficult not to come to the conclusion that there is little willingness on the part of our students unions, all of whom are entitled to put forward five motions, to face up to the malaise facing USI. Many of the motions call for worthy initiatives that would enhance our education system. But there is little evidence of a willingness to actually do something to make such initiatives a reality.

Some of the motions take on a hard line approach to the idea that the Union of Students in Ireland is indeed a union at all. Trinity College SU have submitted a motion calling for the link between USI and SIPTU to be broken and links to be established with the employers group IBEC instead. Whatever about the ideological questions involved in such a proposal, it represents the pursuit of an appalling strategy. When student unions have come into conflict with college authorities in the past, SIPTU and other unions have often been their only allies. On a national level, the trade unions, through SIPTUs education branch, are a voice for the preservation and expansion of free education.

This brings us to the nub of the matter. The crisis facing USI is a crisis of politics. The dominant ideology of the Student movement of the present time might be described as service based. Most Unions now simply see their role as providing services and managing the staffs that run them. In this context, it makes sense to cut links with bodies such a trade unions because the service model sees no role for the campaigns that might involve trade unionists in the first place.

This model is leading to the ruination of the student movement. Yes, Unions ought to provide welfare and education services. But there has to be a campaigning role if the Unions are to become relevant again. The campaigning model gives students a role in their union that is something other than a mere consumer. By doing so, it encourages participation and empowerment. Only the campaigning model can fight to introduction of fees by stealth and achieve a real say for students with college authorities. This much has been proved time and a time again. Recall how students achieved a say in how colleges were run in the first place and how students worked with their allies to defeat fees.

The occasion of this year’s annual congress will provide an opportunity for those attending to confront USIs crisis of politics. It is an opportunity that should be grasped.

author by Billy Braggpublication date Sun Apr 01, 2007 15:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I'd suggest calling a fringe meeting down at USI congress and seeing who's interested in forming a national network of students who broadly agree with this analysis and want to do something about it. There was a meeting like that held in 2005 but there was very little follow up work done, and things have continued to get worse over the last two years. Ultimately USI is only ever going to be the sum of its parts, if the college SUs are bad so is USI. The way to get a good USI would be to have a number of activist-based, left-led SUs in colleges at the same time. In the last few years UCD has been the only SU with that kind of orientation and they've gone backwards recently too. But the best starting point would be to form a network of activists co-ordinating their actions and sharing ideas. If you're going down to the Congress (I won't be), see who's interested.

author by The Insiderpublication date Sun Apr 01, 2007 16:48author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"The way to get a good USI would be to have a number of activist-based, left-led SUs in colleges at the same time"

Truer words are rarely spoken. The problem with USI is not one of structures or of resources - it's one of ideology and political will. And it won't change by itself. And it can't change if the SUs in this country don't change.

author by Justin Morahanpublication date Tue Apr 03, 2007 00:25author address author phone Report this post to the editors

After the USI started students showed a healthy interest in public affairs and during the sixties were active on the issue of the Viet Nam war as well as on student issues.

This was welcome and to be expected as students have the freedom, energy, resources and time to think freely on issues that are not local. Student action can be a catalyst for change for the better in any society. Students can and do transcend local politics and take a broader view.

On the other hand, student unions can be used by budding politicians to wage a first campaign as a stepping stone to political power within an already established party that is hide-bound by its history.

And like all places of power, unions are infiltrated by power-mongers who use them to negate the very purposes for which they were created and/or to give an imprimatur to the status quo. In this regard, I note the statement in your article "Trinity College SU have submitted a motion calling for the link between USI and SIPTU to be broken and links to be established with the employers group IBEC instead"

Please tell me that this statement is an April Fool joke.

Otherwise, the bleak, bleak, bleak outlook is for further outbreaks of desperate showers.

author by The Insiderpublication date Tue Apr 03, 2007 14:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

...it was no joke. The Clar is available on www.usi.ie and the motion is on it. Can't be arsed digging it out, but it is true to say that it advocates ending the SIPTU link and engaging with IBEC.

Truly embarrassing.

author by Séamus Ó Ceallaigh - UCCSUpublication date Tue Apr 03, 2007 17:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors

While I wholeheartedly welcome the USI/SIPTU agreement at the time, it seems to be meaningless. SIPTU have been quite obstructive in extending the opening hours of our library in UCC. This is a tangible improvement that has been hampered by the local SIPTU branch as the agreement means nothing to them. Is the agreement harmful? No, it's just useless. Should we have an agreement with IBEC? As long as its not harmful, then we should try and negotiate one with them as well. USI should try and influence other lobby groups just as much as politicians.

I have a major issue with the idea that we "won" the fight against fees in 2003. The chronic underfunding of the third and fourth level sectors is still evident and in fact is worse that the introduction of fees. Dempsey tested the water and it was the PDs who ultimately stopped it. The positives to come from that time was the well organised reaction from the student movement, which unfortunately was unable to react to the underfunding issue, because it was a less clear cut message that "No to Fees". The fact remains that the HEA, the DOES and most HEIs are now calling for the underfunding issue to be addressed, whether by fees or other means. What the government has done is to make the idea palatable by essentially winning the argument in the mainstream media with the publication of reports form the OECD etc so that if they are re-elected it will be an obvious conclusion to re-introduce fees. Our alternative, of course is to vote for another government who is committed to properly funding all four levels of education in Ireland.

author by Some Guypublication date Tue Apr 03, 2007 18:57author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The business-loving reformist "students" officers at UCC are facing trouble in their own back yard. They still aren't out of doo-doo of that Wrixon-cuddling scandal and they're fresh into new scandal. Apparently they don't actually do anything for their own electorate, as opposed to the entrepreneurs on campus they're so eager to please.

BloggingJo writes (on FUCC) "Why he should be impeached? Because he's shit. He really hasnt been worth the money that we have paid for him this year." http://bb.ucc.ie/viewtopic.php?t=13759

(and they're elitists http://bb.ucc.ie/viewtopic.php?t=13724 with iffy election results http://bb.ucc.ie/viewtopic.php?t=13694)

author by The Insider - Once was USIpublication date Tue Apr 03, 2007 19:45author address author phone Report this post to the editors

If the USI-SIPTU agreement is not working, then the solution is to make it work, not bin it. It makes no sense whatsoever to take USI (already an organisation with limited clout) and make it completely isolated.

I'm not sure on the specifics of the Cork Library issue, but you can't expect workers to work longer hours for the same pay.

I'm sure the SIPTU link would be of massive help to students in the workplace if there was any difficulties. Do you think IBEC will ride to the rescue of students in that position? Would they help with your Library dispute? Not a chance.

Going back to the fees issue, SIPTU were very supportive of the USI campaign at that point - in fact, without SIPTU and other unions and organisations supporting us back then, the campaign would have been ineffective.

If there are problems, get in with SIPTU, hammer out an agreement and make it work. Don't cure the disease by killing the patient.

author by Some Guypublication date Wed Apr 04, 2007 12:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I don't know if University College Cork is worse than the other universities in terms of human resources disputes, staff turnover and poor morale - but certainly there doesn't seem to have been a week in the past few years when University College Cork was NOT in the papers with one scandal or another. In fact I haven't seen "corruption" applied to any of the other institutions.

Strangely though, the specifics of the library dispute don't seem to have been covered much, even though it is a years-long story of abusive management practices that has been in and out of the Labour Court and had awful consequences for the health of affected staff.

The university is directly contracted (check what a contract is, Seamus) to the students to provide the necessities of an education. Failure by the university to provide those necessities can not be made good by blaming library staff and implementing ever more oppressive work practices to make up for resource shortages. It is certainly the IBEC way to turn citizen against citizen in economic competition. It is really sad to see the "union" of students pretending to be baby capitalists on the board of management, but perhaps that is exactly what this government wants from the education system.

author by 2latepublication date Wed Apr 04, 2007 12:42author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It would be great to get people genuinely interested in doing some real work together at congress and move forward from there, but the sad fact is I don't think there are more than half a dozen people around this year that are of that persuasion (and i don't mean a particular political persuasion, i mean... 'motivated').

The attempt at splitting from SIPTU is not the biggest problem with the current tone of USI's work but it is indicative of the attitude surrounding student politics. I think it's based on a lack of basic understanding, SIPTU aren't there to help SU's deal with their staff, they're there to help ACTUAL STUDENTS with their worker's rights issues. It just shows where priorities lie these days that this fact is being overlooked.

There is a general election coming in a matter of weeks and there hasn't been a word from USI on it... in fact from looking at the clar there doesn't even seem to be a mention of it. Why, is the nationwide parking crisis more important? A whole generation of students are now not being educated about their place in the democratic system because of sheer laziness. It's a massive lost opportunity, no wonder TD's don't take the student vote seriously if student's unions don't!

If things are going to change you need to start planning now for next year, get the half dozen people together, get them all to find another half dozen each, and start getting vocal, getting involved, and getting others to listen... Students are in a unique position to fight for their own rights and those of a variety of marginalised groups. It's time to get the lazy self-serving types out of the top jobs and get a real student voice back in irish society.

author by Séamus Ó Ceallaigh - UCCSUpublication date Wed Apr 04, 2007 15:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Thanks for the replies and I love the "shame on Séamus pun"!

The thread on the UCC forum boards don;t actually refer to Richard at all but our Communications Officer, Peter Lynch. I don;t agree with the poster but we're not ones to take away his right to say it. I would semind some guy that the proposal of an argument in no way proves it to be correct. This sensationistic approach should go against the very concept of independent media.

Insider wrote "If the USI-SIPTU agreement is not working, then the solution is to make it work, not bin it." I completely agree, that is the way to do things. I never suggested that I supported the motion calling for it's scrapping, I did suggest that there are serious problems with it. I think it is fair to say that the specifics of the library contract would not require staff to do more work for the same pay, that would be an extremely simplistic view of it. DO I think IBEC would help out, that has nothing to do with the issue about the library and I never suggested it did. I suggested that USI engage with many other lobbying organisations to achieve their aims. So in response, yes "hammer out" a solution. I think the agreement does not harm, as a previously said.

Some guy again wrote: "Strangely though, the specifics of the library dispute don't seem to have been covered much, even though it is a years-long story of abusive management practices that has been in and out of the Labour Court and had awful consequences for the health of affected staff."

I would remind you that not all issues are covered (or for that matter reported) to the mainstream Irish media. The SU have been involved in negoiations with HR and the Unions have so far not allowed for extended opening hours despite money being ringfenced from the University for it. It makes no sense for the SU to send a press release to media that "SIPTU are Aresholes"! It woun't exactly help relations. In comparison with the other "disputes" in our University where embarrassment is the key aim for many people who have felt agrieved by management.

Some guy again wrote: "The university is directly contracted (check what a contract is, Seamus) to the students to provide the necessities of an education. Failure by the university to provide those necessities can not be made good by blaming library staff and implementing ever more oppressive work practices to make up for resource shortages."
Once again with the sensationalism: I don't believe the University management are evil and the local SIPTU branch are devine. Both ahve their own interests, as do the students' union. I think that much is clear. We first won over the University to provide the resources (and I would say that this is were my formal involvment in the process ended and my sucessors took over) and since then have been in negoiations. I do not believe anyone in UCC is made to work oppressive work practices at all and there is no possibility that the SU would support that.

Back to the issue at hand: it's all careerist hacks as opposed to "real student voices". Do you really believe that? Is it really as simple as that or is this thread to reduce the typical left versus right ignorant bullshit?

author by Some Guypublication date Wed Apr 04, 2007 17:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Seamus asks "Back to the issue at hand: it's all careerist hacks as opposed to "real student voices". Do you really believe that? Is it really as simple as that or is this thread to reduce the typical left versus right ignorant bullshit?"

No, Seamus, it is maturity. Some of the staff whose careers you are so blithely blighting have been working for University College Cork since before you were born. The disputes you are wading into with such arrogant self-assurance began before you chose your Junior Certificate subjects. You know oh so little about them, and even less about the people affected. Of course there are oppressive work practices at UCC, as the LC has adjudicated. But caring isn't your strongest suit.

author by Séamus Ó Ceallaigh - UCCSUpublication date Wed Apr 04, 2007 18:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Where is all this bitterness coming from? How in the world would you possibly know how much I know about staff in UCC? When have I ever suggested that I don't care about them? Is it mature to assume to know about other peoples beliefs and how much they care about other people? Is it mature to accuse someone of blithely blighting other people’s careers with no justification?

We would, of course, need to define "oppressive work practices", I was judging it in the context of another persons post about having to work longer hours for the same amount of pay. If you want to define it in the context of the Labour Court decision (link below, it becomes a much more complex issue.
My understanding of this ruling goes down to equality between areas employment. I would not define this as "oppressive", even though I welcomed the decision.

Related Link: http://www.siptu.ie/PressRoom/NewsReleases/2003/Name,2242,en.html
author by Some Guypublication date Wed Apr 04, 2007 20:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

You pick a very strange choice of Labour Court ruling that is both irrelevant to the library service and overturned on appeal - I was thinking more along the lines of summary dismissal and reinstatement on application to the LC, rostering, overbearing management, that kind of thing. Things related to the specific dispute you waded (apparently blindly) and not any of the other disputes at University College Cork.

Of course it is much easier to complain about leftwingers, unregulated independent media or bitterness than engage in the discussion.

But your comments demonstrate exactly what the original poster says - the USI no longer represents the students of Ireland. The individuals in salaried USI posts consider themselves a part of the university administration, although their presence as administrators and baby business people makes not one iota of difference to management. Your duty is to represent students and assert their contractual and other interests, not to assist management, not to parrot verbatim the sound bites that management spoon you, not to decide what is or is not appropriate workplace practice, not to sell the bookshop and bank franchise, not to contract out the catering or campus security, and not to blame staff for inadequate resources. But you are too compromised to even see your conflicts of interest.

author by Pedantpublication date Sat Apr 07, 2007 19:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

When BloggingJo wrote "Why he should be impeached? Because he's shit. He really hasnt been worth the money that we have paid for him this year" (http://bb.ucc.ie/viewtopic.php?t=13759) he was not writing about Richard Morrisroe (easy mistake though), but about Peter Lynch UCCSU Communications Officer. And all Peter's mates are really upset about BloggingJo criticising him, as the multiple followups on that thread show. Solidarity lads! (but not with real students....)

On another note (http://bb.ucc.ie/viewtopic.php?t=13682), Societes Guild Executive VP Diarmuid had this weird remark about UCC Law Society Recording Secretary Peter Daly's role in giving legal advice (!) about appointing an "independent" investigator of the "corruption" at UCC:

Tehe,
Paul Daly: "Sure we can appoint an 'Independent' person.." *
* No idea, more then likely not true

To which Paul Daly replies:

Twice. The first time they didn't listen. And look what happened.
The second time, well, myself and Padraig might yet be taking oaths
in the High Court over that one (even though they did listen).
Ah, notoriety

Now it would be fun seeing these muppets in court defending the indefensible.

author by Peterpublication date Fri Apr 13, 2007 14:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Going back to the fees issue, SIPTU were very supportive of the USI campaign at that point - in fact, without SIPTU and other unions and organisations supporting us back then, the campaign would have been ineffective."

Tell me, what exactly did SIPTU do to aid the campaign?

author by Sweetiepublication date Sun Apr 15, 2007 13:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Tell me, what exactly did SIPTU do to aid the campaign?"

As this is very much a live issue, we do need answers on what aspects of the campaign were successful last time around, and who people feel earned credit for campaigning.

Currently CAO uses bonus points for some student intake to some courses (e.g. maths and english at UL) and next year medical students will have an interview in addition to Leaving Cert points (GAMSAT). The fee structure could take on many forms, some with greater impact on some applicants than on others. One university is likely to introduce top-up fees to its highest points courses next year (2008 intake) whatever the progress of universal fees.

It often seems that we are intent on using the proceeds of economic good luck to fund the construction of a class-based society in which participation in education and employment will depend on family, wealth and "acceptable" presentation. Leaving Cert points is most certainly not equivalent to merit, but it is closer than belonging to the right class.

Number of comments per page
  
 
© 2001-2022 Independent Media Centre Ireland. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by Independent Media Centre Ireland. Disclaimer | Privacy