Waterford Institute of Technology has withdrawn a letter sent to unions stating that the Department of Education and Skills had informed them of the possibility of a voluntary redundancy scheme for public servants employed in the education and training sector.
The memo seen by RTÉ News was sent to representatives of the Teachers Union of Ireland, IMPACT, Unite and SIPTU last night by a senior manager at WIT.
In it, the WIT official states that he has been asked by the president, secretary/financial controller and the HR manager to establish the level of interest that may exist among staff to avail of such a scheme.
However, the Department of Education and Skills has categorically denied that it has made any proposal, officially or unofficially, regarding voluntary redundancies in WIT or any other Institute of Technology.
A Department spokesperson added that no institute of technology had made an application to the department for a voluntary redundancy scheme - but that if such an application were made, it would have to be approved by both the Department of Education and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
Issued in error
A spokesperson for WIT said the letter was issued "in error" and was being withdrawn.
She was unable to explain why the letter said that the Department of Education and Skills had informed WIT of the possibility of a voluntary redundancy scheme for public servants employed in the education and training sector.
She denied that President of WIT Professor Willie Donnelly had authorised an exercise to establish the level of interest in voluntary redundancy that might exist.
General Secretary of the Teachers Union of Ireland John MacGabhann said it was highly unfortunate that WIT appeared to have acted precipitately without adherence to basic procedures.
He said the memo had caused unnecessary disquiet at a time when members were already gravely concerned about the potential consequences of the proposed merger of the ITs to form technological universities.
He said this concern was evidenced by the recent ballot where members had overwhelmingly backed industrial action amid concerns about the technological university proposals including redundancies, course rationalisation and regional provision of education.