TCDSU President criticises Council motion to remove mandate to support PWO

The motion is proposed by Education Officer Catherine Arnold and seconded by all sabbatical officers except Molnárfi

Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) President László Molnárfi has criticised an upcoming council motion to withdraw the union’s mandate to support the Postgraduate Workers’ Organisation (PWO).

In a statement released this evening, Molnárfi said the motion seeks to “withdraw our support for the Postgraduate Workers’ Organisation (PWO), which is the only organisation representing postgraduate researchers”.

He said all students have speaking rights at council, the next one of which is due to take place tomorrow, and encouraged students to speak against the motion.

“We must stand up to this union busting, attempt to drive a wedge in our unity and attack on solidarity between undergraduates and postgraduates,” he said.

“Postgraduate researchers are our TAs, correct our assignments and are the backbone of our College.”

“They are struggling to eat and pay rent, are overworked and lack basic workers’ rights like minimum wage and parental leave. Strike action by the PWO is on the horizon, and they need our support at this critical moment.

“As a union, we must stand in solidarity with other unions. All other student unions in Ireland stand in solidarity with the PWO, and have agreed on solid dispute resolution mechanisms if issues arise.

The motion which is due to be brought to TCDSU Council tomorrow evening is “to withdraw 2021/22-23 motion to support PhD groups from Schedule 4”. 

The motion was proposed by Education Officer Catherine Arnold and seconded by Welfare Officer Aoife Bennett, Communications and Marketing Officer Aiesha Wong and Ents Officer Olivia Orr, as well as “further seconders”.

Schedule 4 states that TCDSU must “adopt a committed stance in support of the Postgraduate Workers’ Organisation”, including active participation in the PWO campaigns and collaboration on campus-based campaigns relevant to both the PWO and the TCDSU”.

If the motion passes at council tomorrow, the union will not be mandated to support the PWO, although it still may choose to support PWO campaigns in the future.

The motion notes that “the PWO have been inconsistent with their communication to TCDSU as regards to our working relationship (for example; regarding the PWO status as a capitated or non-capitated body)”. 

“Furthermore, the PWO is solely a lobbying body, and the core aspect of representation and service provision (through casework) of postgraduate students to Trinity College Dublin is being carried out predominantly by TCDSU,” it said.

The motion also notes “with concern” that “identifiable PWO members have allegedly harassed other Union members during the vote of several postgraduate committees after issues arose regarding said election’s integrity caused by their own alleged breach of election regulations”. 

The proposers note that “this was escalated with several statements being released on the PWO’s behalf to such an extent that the PWO have denied all claims of harassment” and “the withdrawal of this motion would remove the obligation to support the PWO, but this would not remove the mandate and obligation to support all postgraduate students or any possible future working relationship with the PWO”.

Council will take place in the Stanley Quek lecture theatre in the TBSI building tomorrow, Tuesday October 17 at 6:30pm.

Kate Henshaw

Kate Henshaw is current Editor-in-Chief of Trinity News, and a graduate of Sociology and Social Policy. She previously served as Deputy Editor, News Editor and Assistant News Editor.

Ellen Kenny

Ellen Kenny is the current Deputy Editor of Trinity News and a Senior Sophister student of Politics and Sociology. She previously served as Assistant Editor and Features Editor