Postgraduate union announces intention to strike

Strike action from the union could include members withdrawing from teaching and refusing to mark or invigilate exams

The Trinity branch of the Postgraduate Workers’ Organisation (PWO TCD) have announced their intention to strike in the final weeks of Hilary term.

Strike action from the union could include members withdrawing from teaching and refusing to mark or invigilate exams.

According to the union 84.4% of members who were surveyed were willing to perform an examination strike, while 72.6% were in favour of a teaching strike, on the grounds that repeated demands for improved conditions have gone unmet, having been ignored both in College and nationally.

PWO TCD said the strike “comes after two years of campaigning, including open letters, petitions, and protests”, none of which they say have resulted in sufficient change to conditions for postgraduate researchers (PGRs) in College.

The four core demands of the PWO are improvements to workers’ rights, living wages, respect in the workplace, and fair treatment for non-EU and disabled PGRs.

In a public statement addressed to Provost Linda Doyle, University Board and University Council, it expressed that “workers’ rights and an employment-based model is the only way forward for postgraduate research programs”.

“As PGRs we have no parental leave, almost universally earn below a living wage, and are often not provided a dedicated work space despite having in-person, on-campus duties.”

It emphasised that “none of these issues we have raised, nor their severity, are news to the governing bodies”.

“We have conducted multiple petitions, released several open letters, and have made frequent attempts at open discussions with the College. We have held three mass protests that gained national coverage and have repeatedly communicated to Trinity College exactly what changes we expect them to implement.”

“These requests and demands have not been met.”

“As PWO Trinity prepares to enter into industrial action, we ask that Trinity College Dublin take responsibility for the wellbeing of their College community and stand for the rights and human dignity of their PGRs. We would rather not have to strike, but are ultimately prepared to do so,” PWO TCD continued.

“If a fair-pay and rights-based offer is not made, then we intend to follow our preparations with a strike,” they said.

In June, PWO threatened strike action following the publication of the state review of supports for researchers, which it said was a “grave disappointment”.

A second report promised by the chairs of the review has not yet been forthcoming.

TCDSU President László Molnárfi urged solidarity with the union “in their pursuit of fair and just working conditions”.

“TCDSU strongly supports PWO TCD in their decision to take disruptive action. We stand behind their core demands as outlined in the Fair Postgraduate Researcher Agreement.”

Highlighting that “previous methods of engagement have failed”, Molnárfi called on College and government “to engage in immediate and meaningful dialogue to address the concerns raised by the PWO”.