The Union of Students in Ireland urges all Senators to support a motion aimed at securing the rights of PhD researchers, including addressing precarious contracts and proving a living wage for all involved in teaching and research in higher education institutions.

USI welcomes and supports the motion tabled by Senators Alice-Mary Higgins, Michael McDowell, and Rónán Mullen, which comes before Seanad Eireann at 8pm this evening (Wednesday, May 24).

USI believes the motion addresses many of the key problems currently facing PhD researchers, including recognising PhD researchers as employees so they are entitled to employment rights and protections.

The motion also lines up with the asks included in the USI Postgraduate Researchers’ Rights Charter 2022, which was approved by members early this year.

Supporting the motion, USI Vice President for Postgraduate Affairs, Waqar Ahmed said: “The Government must safeguard the working rights of postgraduate researchers in Ireland and recognise them as employees.

“We demand a living wage of at least €28,808 per annum for all PhD researchers. All work allocated to postgraduate researchers should be recognised and compensated fairly in their contracts. The state should ensure a safe, accessible, and healthy working environment for postgraduate researchers. And we call for an immediate end to discrimination against non-EEA postgraduate researchers by implementing necessary reforms.”

USI supports Senators Higgins, McDowell and Mullen’s motion which calls on the government to:

  • Recognise PhD researchers as employees so they are entitled to relevant legislative employment rights and protections, including maternity benefit, parental leave and sick leave and PRSI contributions.
  • Urgently engage with representative organisations of lecturers and postdoctoral and PhD researchers in order to begin to address this systemic issue.
  • Introduce regulations or legislate to ensure all persons employed to teach in higher education institutions earn a living wage at a minimum.
  • Engage with the Higher Education Authority, universities and higher education institutions, trade unions and other worker representative organisations to develop regulations around the use of fixed-term and part-time contracts and contracts of indefinite duration.
  • Work with relevant stakeholders to develop a tangible plan to end precarity in higher education.
  • Invest in public research and public-public partnerships for research, including frontier research.

The full Seanad motion is here.