College has decided to completely restore teaching assistant and demonstrator pay rates on the casual payroll to their previous levels, following a Finance Committee meeting held this morning.
PhD students have been expressing their anger during townhall meetings over the last two months at a decision approved by College’s finance committee to cut the pay of casual staff.
President of the GSU Shaz Oye said in a statement: “This decision is justified and goes to the heart of the credibility of the university.” She continued: “This decision signals a deepening commitment to student partnership, and a commitment to foster an effective and flexible organisation which values all members of our community.”
In recent weeks, Oye has engaged in widespread consultation and lobbying with relevant stakeholders across College to convince them to restore teaching assistant and demonstrator pay rates to their previous levels. She stated: “In Ireland PhD candidates are classified as students, not as workers, leaving them without any of the rights or security that legislation currently provides for employees”
“Those lucky enough to be ‘funded’ still earn well below the minimum wage, and rely heavily on the additional hours engaged in teaching or demonstrating duties in order to make ends meet,” she added.
She believes that a continuation of the current situation will see Ireland lag behind in an increasingly competitive global market, and calls on the incoming government to address these inequalities.
Oye stated: “Higher education is regarded as a cornerstone of the Irish economy, and an essential component in promoting its growth, particularly in a knowledge-based economy. By failing to provide adequate funding for higher education past governments have endangered Irish research, and threatened the growth of our economy. “
“As our newly elected TDs engage in talks to form a Government I call on them to demonstrate their support for increased funding for Higher Education, and to guarantee that it will be in the new Programme for Government,” she added.
The TCD PhD Workers Rights Group was established in October of last year by postgraduate students Tom Dinneen and Conchuir Ó Raidaigh. Among the group’s central aims are the recognition of PhD students as workers, with contracts and full employee and collective bargaining rights; an end to unpaid teaching; and PhD stipends based on the living wage.