The Postgraduate Workers’ Organisation (PWO) is to march from Front Square to the Dáil next Thursday, March 23 to demand better conditions for postgraduate researchers in Ireland.
In a post on Instagram today the organisation highlighted that the maximum PhD stipend in Ireland is currently 22% below the country’s minimum wage, as well as the fact that postgraduate researchers currently hold no entitlement to sick pay or maternity leave.
The group added: “As the deadline for submissions to the National Review of State Supports for PhD Researchers has closed, we want to ensure that the review will be completed on time as promised, and that all the recommendations of the review are implemented in Budget 2023.”
Most PhD students in Ireland are not employed by their university but are instead funded through a scholarship contract, being considered students rather than employees. Employee status has been a key demand of postgraduate workers for a number of years, and would extend benefits such as minimum wage and paid leave.
In a comment for Trinity News Dublin City University (DCU) Assistant Professor of Applied Physics Dr Rob O’Connor said that “the current stipend for PhD students is not a liveable wage in Dublin. More and more we are finding it difficult to attract high quality PhD candidates because of this.”
With rising costs of living across Ireland and Dublin consistently being ranked as one of the world’s most expensive cities, concerns amongst postgraduate workers are increasing.
The PWO is encouraging postgraduate researchers to participate in a “Twitter storm” at 12pm on the day of the protest by sharing their experiences with the hashtag #PGRsDeserveBetter.
“You can tweet about why you support the protest or even share a personal story about being a [postgraduate researcher] in Ireland and why we need better conditions,” the group said.
The group will meet at the dining hall steps at 11am and will leave for the Dáil at 11.15am.