PWO deliver “love-letters” to Provost’s House demanding workers’ rights

PWO hoped Provost Linda Doyle herself would take the letters, but they were instead taken by a member of staff

Members of the Postgraduate Workers’ Organisation (PWO) delivered “love-letters” to Provost Linda Doyle’s house today to demand workers’ rights for PhD candidates.

The Valentine’s Day protest was part of a nationwide campaign across universities demanding the government “love Irish researchers”.

The protest was organised in response to the “Love Irish Research” campaign pushed by the Higher Education Authority.

In a statement ahead of the protest, PWO Trinity College Dublin President Jeffrey Sardina said: “Without basic workers’ rights, no amount of “love” for Irish research means anything at all.

“You cannot love someone and push them below the poverty line. You cannot love someone and force them to drop their PhD because they had a child.”

PWO members gathered at the steps of the Dining Hall at 1pm today to write letters on heart-shaped paper addressed to Doyle with their own specific demands for postgraduate researchers.

Love songs were played while the protest formed, including Careless Whisper and Kiss Me.

One PWO member addressed the crowd, saying postgraduates were at the protest “for individual reasons”, but fighting for a common cause.

“Trinity is in crisis, higher education is in crisis … they are fighting the same fights we are, but they are fighting against us.”

“We’re all here for the collective work of making postgraduates better,” he said. “When postgraduates are stronger, Trinity is stronger.”

“When postgraduates are stronger, our undergraduates that we’re teaching are stronger.”

Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union President László Molnárfi also addressed the crowd: “[TCDSU] stand in solidarity with you in condemning the actions, or rather the inaction, both of College and of the Government”.

“Without postgraduate researchers, there would be no one to teach students and research would suffer,” he said.

“Your working conditions are [undergraduates’] learning conditions and, in this way, our struggles are inextricably linked.”

Protestors then marched briefly around the Front Square before arriving outside House 1, which leads to the Provost’s House.

PWO President Conor Reddy stood on the steps of the Provost’s House and said: “It’s time we get access to rights workers all across Europe get … I think we as a union can get that together.”

Protestors waited outside the house, hoping to deliver the letters directly to Doyle, who was reportedly due to return from a meeting.

However, a member of staff instead accepted the letters on behalf of Doyle, who declined to comment to Trinity News.

The PWO demands that workers’ rights, a living wage, and non-EU and disabled rights are given to all PhD candidates in Ireland.

PWO member Matt Murtagh told Trinity News the Department of Higher Education must take “immediate action”.

“Raise our wages to a living wage, change our status from student to employee and implement maternity and parental leave as a matter of urgency,” he said.

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

Gabriela Gazaniga

Gabriela Gazaniga is the Deputy Editor of News Analysis and is currently in her Junior Sophister year earning a degree in Law.