NUI Galway’s Postgraduate Workers Alliance launched a petition this week calling for "a fair working environment and Covid-19 response" for PhD and post-doctoral researchers at the university.
PGWA is an alliance of PhD and post-doctoral researchers from across NUIG’s schools and faculties who are concerned about what they allege is the university's "increasing tendency to rely on the precarious and, often unpaid, labour of PhD and post-doctoral researchers to cover ever more diverse teaching needs".
NUIG is currently in the process of developing a plan to reopen and resume teaching for the coming academic year, which is likely to include significant adaptations in terms of how classes and student assessment are structured given the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak.
However, PGWA allege "no input" has been sought from the postgraduate researchers, "many of whom will be called upon to provide teaching in a complex new environment where social distancing and other health and safety measures will place additional burdens on an already over-stretched.
'The group is calling for new measures to be implemented by NUIG, among which are "fair payment" for all teaching and related academic duties'
The group said it has has also received "no communication from the university administration" regarding changes to teaching hours, provisions for adapting to new health and safety measures, or engagement with RGWA concerns about the financial constraints.
As a result, the group is calling for new measures to be implemented by NUIG, among which are "fair payment" for all teaching and related academic duties; clear governance and transparency in decision making and implementing changes; improved transparency and communication between university administration and postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers in light of the current crisis; PhD researchers not being compelled to take on teaching duties, regardless of funding status; contracts for all workers involved in teaching or academic work, for all hours of teaching or related academic duties completed; and clear and standardised definitions of ‘related academic duties’ in these contracts.