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IRSA and IFUT agree to work together

31 May 2012

IRSA and IFUT agree to work together


Memorandum of Understanding


1. Objectives:

• Achieving effective representation for researchers on industrial relations issues, ensuring greater protection of the rights of individual researchers.

• Delivering sustained and effective collective bargaining for researchers with regard to industrial relations issues such as employment, pay and conditions and other contractual matters.

• Establishing an important and distinctive role for existing representative structures in collaboration with the academic union, allowing IFUT to take up industrial relations issues and IRSA to concentrate on issues where its members have the expertise to make a difference (eg career development, college committee representation).

2. General Principles

The memorandum of understanding between IRSA and IFUT will serve as the basis for close collaboration and co-ordination of representation between the two bodies at a national level. The memorandum will provide a framework for the evolution of collaborative structures at a local HEI level. This agreed framework is designed to:

• Secure union representation for researchers, both individually and collectively, particularly with regard to the area of pay and conditions.

• Ensure that the interests of researchers are fully represented within IFUT.

• Maintain the strengths of existing structures at national (IRSA) and local level (TRSA, UCD-RSA, ARCS, GRSA, DuCRA).

• Facilitate the activity of IRSA as a representative network for researchers on avariety of issues within an agreed remit.

This agreement will facilitate the entry of researchers into IFUT and the representation of researchers by the union particularly with regard to industrial relations and contract issues. The memorandum will allow IRSA to maintain its distinctive structure and character as a representative network, focusing on out reach to researchers, lobbying local and national institutions on career development, improvements in research policy and inclusion of researchers within relevant consultative fora.

This memorandum of understanding:

• Defines the relationship between IRSA and IFUT at a national level.

• Allows flexibility for the development of agreed structures at local level within this collaborative framework.

• Provides for the participation of IRSA through IFUT within educational representative bodies at European and international level (notably the Higher Education Research Standing Committee of Education International).

3. Collaboration at national level

3.1 IRSA understanding:

• IRSA agrees that its members (group or individual) will be represented by IFUT on industrial relations issues (understood in sense of the cluster of issues relating to pay; contracts; terms and conditions; hiring and firing; discipline).

• IRSA will facilitate the entry of researchers to IFUT through the development of appropriate agreed structures.

• IRSA will provide any relevant information and expertise in assisting IFUT to represent researchers within industrial relations processes.

3.2 IFUT understanding

• IFUT agrees that IRSA will continue to take the lead in a representative role on policy issues relating to research including career development; career frameworks; internal college initiatives affecting researchers; adoption or implementation of national policy reports or guidelines and other relevant issues.

• IFUT recognises that IRSA will continue to promote outreach to the researcher community, while IRSA recognises that there may be scope for joint action (joint public meetings or events). The local RSAs will also takethe lead in engaging with HEI officers and administrators on the above issues, while IRSA will continue to lobby public bodies and interact with funding agencies in pursuit of its agenda.

3.3. Collaboration

IFUT and IRSA undertake to collaborate closely in areas where the other is taking the lead and to recognise that some issues/concerns will require a joint approach (for example, the involvement of researchers in teaching has both career development andcontractual implications).

4. Approaches at university/HEI level

IFUT will develop structures for researchers to facilitate recruitment and participation at local level within this framework. This memorandum is not prescriptive on how Research Staff Associations (RSAs) interact with IFUT at local level but sets out to provide a flexible collaborative framework for such interaction. This may take thefollowing forms:

• An IFUT researcher section in each institution where IFUT holds negotiating rights, with each section operating in concert with the local RSA. This would involve majority overlap in membership and activists, with the two committees sharing common interests, strategies and membership.

• Representation of researchers within the local RSA on the committee of the IFUT Branch;

• Incorporation of individual members within IFUT at national level through agreed structures;

• A mixture of the options above, allowing flexibility for RSAs to collaborate insetting up a researcher section and/or to direct members to IFUT at a national level.

Our preferred option is the emergence of a researcher section within IFUT in each institution where IFUT currently holds negotiating rights for academics, provided that such a section has a critical mass of researcher members. Researchers should not be dependent on more senior or established colleagues, no matter how supportive, to advance their interests; they must be able to promote their own interests through open and inclusive structures within the union.

This agreement envisages that IFUT branches which include researcher sections will ensure that such sections are represented among the delegates selected for national bodies, including the IFUT Council. IFUT will also ensure appropriate representationof individual researchers within the Central Branch on the IFUT Council. Officers of IRSA will engage with IFUT Officers at a national level, while members of the RSAs would be expected to engage within researcher sections or with other IFUT members in HEIs.

IFUT acknowledges that RSAs will be given flexibility in developing their interaction with IFUT within the overall framework of the memorandum. Flexibility will also be required where IFUT are not currently organised and in this instance individual researchers should be facilitated in joining the union at a national level.

IRSA guarantees that no attempt will be made on its part to encourage members of an existing union to change their membership: recruitment will involve the large majority of researchers who are not currently members of any union. The option of allowing researchers to join IFUT individually at Head Office/national level should be explored where IFUT are not currently organised. RSAs may continue to collaborate with other unions at local level if that is the decision of their members.

5. European engagement

IRSA will participate through IFUT within appropriate trade union educational representative bodies at European level, including HERSC.

6. Review

This agreement shall be reviewed by both parties on a regular basis: the first review should occur within a three-month period.

7. Note on Implementation

This agreement will enter in force when approved by IRSA and the IFUT Executive.

UCC Research Staff Association

C/O Hydraulics and Maritime Research Centre, Pouladuff Rd, Togher (UCC Internal)