Trinity has rowed back on its decision to cut the hourly teaching pay of students and staff employed on a casual basis, hours after postgraduates protested against the reduction outside a meeting of the College’s Finance Committee.
The decision was made at today’s meeting of the committee, as nearly 80 postgraduate students protested against the pay cuts outside House One.
The old pay rates have been restored, with the matter set to come up again at the next Finance Committee meeting, two members of Finance Committee confirmed to The University Times.
This afternoon, in a statement to The University Times, Tom Molloy, Trinity’s director of public affairs and communications, wrote: “Following a meeting of the Finance Committee today, it was unanimously decided to postpone any changes to the casual pay rates”.
“This decision was taken following useful contributions from several committee members and will now be discussed in detail at the next scheduled meeting”, he said.
The proposal, approved by Finance in November, would have seen some postgraduates’ teaching pay cut by up to nearly 20 per cent.
The revised rates of pay were included in a document that said the rates of pay were reduced “on the premise that work carried out on a casual or occasional basis should not be remunerated at a higher rate than salaried staff carrying out similar work”.
The new rates of pay, the document stated, came into effect on January 1st, 2020. It added: “Where appropriate, there is an option available to Heads of School or Heads of Function to determine a rate for the job instead of an hourly rate. This gives a level of flexibility to apply different rates as circumstances may require.”
Casual staff delivering practical classes in labs, or “demonstrating”, appear to have their rates of pay cut from €21.02 per hour to a new bracket between €17 and €19. This, in effect, means many could lose nearly 20 per cent of their teaching pay.
The minimum hourly rate for teaching or lecturing had also been reduced – from €51.83 to €45 – while the hourly pay rate for delivering seminars or tutorials has fallen from €28.71 to €27.
In a statement to The University Times after the meeting, Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union President said she is “grateful to have been given the space to swiftly address this on behalf of both the Postgraduate and Undergraduate community, and offer a temporary solution to all students, pending further negotiations at next month’s Finance Committee”.
Speaking to The University Times today at the protest this morning, Shaz Oye, the president of the Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) – who sits on the committee – said the union “dissents to” the decision.
“It’s really sort of shocking that TAs and demonstrators – who are on minimum wage to begin with, and rely heavily on that, because of cost of living, to literally feed and clothe themselves – that those rates that they’re paid for demonstrating and as teaching assistants is cut”, she said.
Last night, Oye told The University Times she had missed the decision – which was approved as an item for noting, and did not come up for discussion at the committee – when it was approved in November.
“I want to say to all of my members who are concerned about this, I missed it – hands up, I missed it – and I apologise for that”, Oye said last night. “It was a handful of lines in nearly 300 pages of documentation.”