Businesses on UCD campus and around Ireland have abruptly shut down due to the university shutdown, which has affected their staff. This is one of many disruptive changes on campus during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The UCD Clubhouse has been forced to close its doors for an indeterminate length of time. While many students would give their right arm to be back there now, the closure means uncertainty for its staff. The bar has committed to pay all full-time salaried staff and also part-time staff up to the end of the current published roster. Similarly, the three student union shops on campus have closed and full-time staff receive their complete salary. The student union have committed to paying part-time staff an average of their rostered hours in the proceeding thirteen weeks. This arrangement has only been confirmed up to the 29th of March. Meanwhile, the student union’s sabbatical officers continue to work on behalf of students while their offices are closed. Elsewhere, the UCD foundation has been forced to drastically cut the shift work offered to approximately 50 staff members. The bulk of these staff are UCD students. The normal function of this section has 13 staff working but with the outbreak, this number has been cut to just 5.
Centra and Bluebird Café continue to open on campus. Their opening hours can be found on the UCD Estates Services website.
The impact of COVID-19 on employment has hit far beyond UCD. With many temporary closures, it is estimated that 140,000 people in Ireland have become unemployed as a result of the shut down so far, including 50,000 bar staff and 70,000 staff in food outlets. With hospitality and retail are among the worst-hit sectors, a large proportion of students have found themselves among this startling figure.
This has heightened the worries for students regarding COVID-19, particularly those who rely on such jobs to pay college fees and the ever-increasing cost of rent in Dublin. The UCD Students’ Union has been keen to stress the supports to students who find themselves out of work due to the virus. Students who are working part-time and are experiencing a temporary lay-off or have had their hours of work reduced due to COVID-19, are eligible for the COVID-19 pandemic unemployment payment. Students’ Union Class Representatives have also been sharing information as to how students can apply for the scheme. Any student who wishes to apply for the payment should visit the gov.ie website and download the application form which they can freepost. The payment is only a temporary measure and the government is expected to announce more measures soon.
The COVID-19 outbreak has left many worried about their health and that of their loved ones but has also caused a lot of anxiety about jobs. Academic staff have been working tirelessly from home to ensure learning can still take place for students in an online capacity. Those who work in student supports like the student desk and the career development centre have continued to facilitate students as best they can. However, there are services around UCD, which simply cannot continue to function as normal and the staff have been impacted.
Conor Paterson – Politics Editor