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CITY TRIBUNE

NUI Galway accused of ‘exploiting’ postgrad students

Dara Bradley

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NUIG

Postgraduate students at NUIG have said they will refuse to perform unpaid teaching, in the latest escalation of an ongoing dispute over pay.

Around 140 mostly PhD researchers, and some lecturers, from the Postgraduate Workers Alliance (PWA), have told university president Prof Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, that they will not carry out any work, “which is not remunerated at the existing collectively bargained rate”.

In a letter to the NUIG head, and copied to Minister for Higher and Further Education, Simon Harris, the postgrad workers said concerns they raised earlier this year have not been adequately dealt with.

“We have no option but to make it clear that we do not recognise any expectation of unpaid work as legitimate,” they said.

More than 400 people signed an online petition earlier this year expressing concern over the “unfair working environment” at NUIG, and the “continued exploitation” postgraduates and researchers.

At the time they highlighted concerns about the tendency to rely on precarious and often unpaid work by PhD students, “to cover ever more diverse teaching needs across the university”.

In the latest letter highlighting their concerns, the PWA said: “The arrangements whereby postgraduates carry out teaching or related academic duties is exploitative and unjust during ‘normal’ times, and this unfairness is even more palpable, given postgraduates are now expected to carry out these duties on the front lines of a global pandemic.”

Describing postgraduates as ‘valuable and valued members of the university community’, NUIG said it was working to address their concerns, at an institutional and sectoral level.

It pointed out that the National Framework for Doctoral Education agreed nationally, acknowledges that the skills developed through doctoral education should “relate both to the research process itself and to broader professional training and development”.

“The core component of our research programmes is the advancement of knowledge through original research. Contributing to teaching is also an integral part of the training of a research Master’s or PhD student. It assists in the acquisition of generic and transferable skills and is the norm in the sector,” a spokesperson said.

Responsibility for teaching contribution allocation across NUIG is devolved to the teaching unit, usually at school level.

And normally all PhD students make contributions of a maximum of 120 hours a year – approximately five hours per week over 24 weeks over three academic years.

NUIG added: “During the period of Covid restrictions, no research supervisor or line manager will be expected to impel a research student to undertake an on-campus teaching contribution.

“If a research student is not in a position to undertake an on-campus teaching contribution, they may be allocated alternate forms of teaching contribution. Research student funding, through award of a scholarship stipend, does not, in NUIG or elsewhere, imply a contract of employment. The purpose of scholarship funding is to provide financial support to the students during their research degree.”

CITY TRIBUNE

WATCH: The Olivers to the rescue … again!

Enda Cunningham

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Father and son rescue team Patrick and Morgan Oliver were back in action in Salthill this morning, when they helped a swimmer who got into difficulty.

A member of the public raised the alarm at around 10.30am and the Coastguard sought the assistance of Galway Lifeboat who launched from Galway Docks.

Two members of the lifeboat shore crew made their way to the promenade to assist in the rescue.

Patrick and Morgan Oliver were fishing off Salthill at the time and spotted the man taking refuge on Palmers Rock about 200 metres from Salthill shore. They took him on board their fishing boat and brought him back to Galway Docks. Galway Lifeboat in the meantime was stood down. 

The man was taken into the Lifeboat station where he received treatment for symptoms of hypothermia until an ambulance arrived.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Assurances given on progress of road, bridge and bus projects

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – It will take time and a lot of money, but the city’s network of major transport projects will proceed on schedule – that was the assurance given this week to councillors by City Council Chief Executive, Brendan McGrath.

Councillors had expressed concerns at their meeting on Monday about the slow rate of progress being made with major capital projects including two new pedestrian bridges over the River Corrib.

However, Brendan McGrath told the meeting that the timelines for the range of capital transport projects – while challenging – were reasonable, pragmatic and achievable.

“All of the projects are moving forward but we must adhere to all the procedures and the different stages that have to be complied with: we have no choice in that,” said Brendan McGrath.

Senior City Council Engineer, Uinsinn Finn, in reply to a number of queries about potential new bus routes, said that while the Council worked closely with Bus Éireann and the bus companies, the local authority didn’t decide on the routes.

Earlier in the meeting, Cllr Peter Keane (FF), asked ‘how it could take 63 months’ to deliver a pedestrian/cycle bridge over the Corrib even though the piers (old Corrib Railway Line) were already in place for the project.

“How can it take over five years to put a bridge like this over the Corrib,” he asked, after hearing that this €11 million Greenways-linked project would not be completed until 2026.

There is a snappier timescale for the Salmon Weir Pedestrian/Cycle Bridge – to be located adjacent to the existing structure on the southern side – with planning consent expected by next Summer and a completion date set for the end of 2022.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Council removes ‘shop local’ signage despite agreement with Latin Quarter

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Signage promoting a ‘eat, drink and shop local’ campaign, erected by a local business group, was removed by the Galway City Council – despite an understanding that permission had been granted.

The bilingual signage was placed on a number of solar compactor bins and bollard-control boxes in the city centre by the Latin Quarter business group, in an attempt to promote local businesses grappling with the effects of Covid-19.

A source in the group told the Galway City Tribune that the signage cost around €3,500 and that permission to erect it had been given by a ‘senior Council official’.

The signs were put up in mid-October but only lasted around two weeks when City Hall’s Environment Department had them removed, claiming that they had not been consulted.

“There was clearly a breakdown in communications in City Hall because we had permission from a senior official to proceed, and then the Environment Department took issue with the signs and insisted that they had to be removed,” said the source.

A Council spokesperson said they were currently in discussions with the Latin Quarter to provide promotional material and added “there’s been no falling out here”.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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