Jan 23, 2024

PWO Announces Strike at End of Term

The organisation’s demands include worker’s rights, payment of a living wage, respect and fair treatment.

Sáoirse GoesDeputy Editor
Giulia Grillo for The University Times

On Monday morning, the Postgraduate Workers’ Organisation (PWO) of Trinity College Dublin announced their intention to strike at the end of Hilary Term. This announcement follows calls from the PWO Ireland for escalating action on PhD and postgraduate researcher (PGR) rights, following two years of campaigning, which included open letters, petitions, and protests. 

The strike is organised around four core demands, including worker’s rights, in which the PWO specify sick leave, parental leave and labour law protections. They also call for a guarantee of livable pay, respect in the workplace, and fair treatment for non-EU and disabled PGRs.

Although the strike is planned around these four branches, the PWO also outline a full list of their demands in the Fair Postgraduate Researcher Agreement (FRA). The FRA also requests the provision of training, equipment and representation for postgraduate workers and demands the right to live in Ireland and support a family.


The announcement of the PWO’s intent to strike follows a survey of all postgraduates in Trinity in Michaelmas last year, conducted by the PWO TCD and the Trinity College Dublin Students’s Union (TCDSU). According to the survey, 84.4% of postgraduates were willing to perform an examination strike, while 72.6% were willing to perform a teaching strike.

In a statement released this morning, the PWO TCD said “Workers’ rights and an employment-based model is the only way forward for postgraduate research programmes”. They continue, asserting that “as postgraduate researchers (PGRs) we have no parental leave, almost universally earn below a living wage, and are often not provided a dedicated work space”.

Addressing Provost Linda Doyle, the University Board and the University Council directly, PWO TCD stresses that “the most severe problems we face (especially for non-EU and disabled PhDs) have gone largely ignored both in Trinity College and nationally”. Citing their previous use of petitions, attempts at discussion with College and three mass protests, PWO TCD argue that “none of the issues we have raised, nor their severity, are news to the governing bodies of Trinity College”.

The statement extends their claims: “[We] have repeatedly communicated to Trinity College exactly what changes we expect them to implement. These requests and demands have not been met”. 

Asking that College “take responsibility for the wellbeing of their College community and stand for the rights and human dignity of their PGRs”, PWO TCD announces their preparations to take industrial action. They further note, “we would rather not have to strike, but are ultimately prepared to do so”.

In a statement on behalf of the union, TCDSU President László Molnárfi expressed its support of the PWO “in their decision to take disruptive action”, firmly standing behind their core demands. The “overwhelming support from postgraduates” indicated by the survey “highlights the urgency of addressing these issues, as well as shows that previous methods of engagement have failed”. 

Expressing its “solidarity with the PWO in their pursuit of fair and just working conditions”, TCDSU further “calls on the College as well as on the government to engage in immediate and meaningful dialogue to address the concerns raised by the PWO”.

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