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UCD Students' Union president Pat de Brún addresses last night's general meeting, the first of its kind for 24 years. Dave Nowak via The University Observer, reproduced with permission

UCD students fail in bid to overturn sacking of students' union staff

UCD Students’ Union had closed a photocopying centre, saying it could not sustain its losses after the union fell €1m into debt.

A GROUP of students in UCD have failed in their bid to force their students’ union to reinstate two longstanding members of its staff who were laid off before Christmas.

Students seeking to have the two staff – who worked at the union’s longstanding photocopying service – had collected a petition of over 3,000 signatures to have the staff reinstated.

The Union had moved to close the service two weeks before Christmas, saying it was losing between €30,000 and €40,000 per year.

Students last night voted to reopen the service at a general meeting – but the motion was declared invalid after only 157 students voted, over 800 short of the number needed for motion to stand.

The Union’s constitution requires 5 per cent of its membership – of around 18,000 students – to vote in such motions in order for their results to be valid.

The poor turnout at the meeting came despite student activists presenting the union with a petition of over 3,000 signatures demanding that the service be reopened.

The general meeting – the first of its kind since 1988 – had been called after the Union’s council of student class reps voted down a similar motion to reopen the service at a meeting last month.

UCD’s SIPTU members had been balloted on pursuing strike action against the redundancies, but had voted against such action.

In a circular to all students, union president Pat de Brún told students that an audit of the union’s accounts earlier this year had revealed an accumulated deficit of around €1 million, details of which had not previously been known.

While the photocopying service had been “longstanding and valued”, “trade had suffered successively for the last number of years” and the service could no longer be supported.

The photocopying service had been established in the 1970s, when UCD moved from the city centre to the Belfield campus, and had been used by lecturers to distribute course materials to students.

The introduction of electronic substitutes such as Moodle and Blackboard had meant fewer academics still used the service, however.

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