Sinn Féin Senator Fintan Warfield has today called on the Government to address the precarious employment situation of many lecturers and researchers.
Speaking in response to the recent Irish Federation of University Teachers report ‘Precarious Employment in Higher Education’, Senator Warfield said:
“For too long the State has talked about building a knowledge-based economy, while neglecting to provide the legislative and other supports necessary to actually do this.
“One of the most significant causes of concern in the sector is the widespread use of short term and ‘if and when’ contracts.
“According to the Journal.ie there are an estimated 11,200 lecturers working these short-term temporary contracts. While the IFUT report highlights that over 30% of respondents only work on an ‘if and when’ basis and 61% do not get paid for periods between terms.
“Shockingly, the same report shows that only 15% of researchers are on a permanent contract. Significantly, the report highlights the high level of unpaid hours worked as part of these contracts also.
“It seems incredible that in this day and age we are allowing this to continue.
“This insecurity is heaping real and significant hardship on those in the sector. From impacting on relationships and mental health, to life choices like marriage and starting a family.
“The reality is that the strains of this life are, for many, simply unsustainable. Many are now leaving academia in Ireland or, in many instances, entirely.
“The use of these contracts is also facilitating the development of an increasingly two tiered and classist system in whereby those who can afford to endure these precarious employment conditions can remain in academia. By contrast, those who can’t, must either substitute their earning elsewhere or forego a career in academia entirely.
“Government must listen to our academics and researchers and address this issue with the immediacy it deserves.