TCDSU passes motion to support TCD PGWA

With the passing of this motion, the union are mandated to “adopt a committed stance” in support of the organisation

Trinity College Dublin Student Union (TCDSU) has passed a motion to support the TCD Postgraduate Workers Alliance (TCD PGWA) at this evening’s Council meeting.

The motion, which was proposed by Eoghan Ross, vice-chair of TCD PGWA, mandates TCDSU to “adopt a committed stance in support of [TCD PGWA], their aims and objectives as outlined by their charter”. The proposal was seconded by TCDSU President Leah Keogh.

The proposal noted that postgraduate researchers are not recognised as workers at either university or state level, precluding them from workers’ rights such as a living wage, leave from work, social and pension contributions, safety in the workplace, equal treatment, or privacy and data protection.

It also highlighted the growing burden of unpaid tutorial and demonstrating hours in light of increasing costs of living, “resulting in a detrimental impact on the health and well being of postgraduate researchers”. 

It was also noted “that Ireland ranks at the very bottom among EU/EEA countries when it comes to average PhD stipend to cost-of-living”, while 8 EU/EEA countries already recognise working rights for PhD candidates.

Speaking at Council, Ross outlined the “terrible working conditions” which PhD students face, saying that most are paid less than minimum wage, while some are not compensated at all.

Ross emphasised that this is a concern for undergraduate students because what PhD students are able to offer as teaching assistants and demonstrators is determined by what they themselves receive.

A member of Council seconding the motion added that for international postgraduate students, recognition as workers can affect Visa status, while Keogh said that it is “inevitable and imperative” that postgraduate students be compensated for their work.

In a statement to Trinity News prior to this evening’s Council session, TCD PWGA explained how the motion would benefit the group if passed: “A motion of support from the TCDSU would help show the legitimacy of our campaign and our work with [Trinity], formalising our relationship to work on key campaigns together.”

“The reach of the TCDSU with undergraduate students would be a key step in informing students of the conditions of PhD courses, enabling us to highlight to them the conditions faced by many of their tutors, demonstrators and teachers, and make them aware of these problems before they find themselves facing them as well,” the statement said.

TCD PWGA said that they envisioned the future relationship between the two organisations as one of “collaboration, mutual support and involvement in campaigns to address these issues both on campus and on national levels”. 

“Both groups have their own perspectives, working together and communicating these views is essential to ensure that we best represent all involved.”

David Wolfe

David Wolfe is a Junior Sophister student of History and Political Science. He is the current Social Media and Managing Editor of Trinity News, having previously served as News Editor, Assistant News Editor and copyeditor.