In the autumn semester of 2020, DION has collaborated with SiN and other fellow organizations across Norway and ran a short survey regarding the extraordinary difficulties provoked by COVID-19 that PhDs, Postdocs and temporary staff had to deal with. On this backdrop, the objective was to assess how the universities responded to this situation and in particular, the contract extensions. You can read the findings of the survey at national level here and the report at NTNU level here.
In May 2020, we reached out to the unions present at NTNU to share your views on the situation of temporary scientific staff further to the coronavirus situation and related NTNU’s response. You can read their statements below.
As the situation is evolving, we hope to maintain an open channel of communication with unions regarding the case of temporary scientific staff and we will regularly update this page with more information as they become available.
Statement from Forskerforbundet
“Forskerforbundet (NAR) are concerned about the situation for postdocs and temporary researchers due to corona. NAR at NTNU have addressed these issues on several occasions in meetings with Rector. We have especially emphasized the need for guidelines for extension of postdoc positions. We also underlined this need in a recently interview with Universitetsavisa. We have been informed that NTNU soon will be ready to discuss possible guidelines with the unions. In addition, we are answering questions from individual members related to this. Our main advice is to document any delays caused by corona.
We will also work to secure that international employees with contracts expiring this Spring will not be forced to go back to their home country if they do not have access to proper health services there. The consequences corona might have on research funding is also something we are focusing on. Until now we have not received many inquiries related to this, but we expect that problems related to funding might occur in a longer time frame.
NAR at central level is working with the same issues. The President of NAR has sent a letter to the Ministry of Education and Research, strongly encouraging them to establish temporary national guidelines for extension of postdocs and PhDs. Other activities related to the corona situation involve webinars for members to keep them informed about their rights. NAR organized a webinar for PhD and Postdocs in the beginning of April, and we plan a similar event in June.
We appreciate that we can have this kind of dialogue with DION in these special circumstances.”
Statement from Akademikerne NTNU
“Akademikerne NTNU has throughout the Corona-crisis expressed concern towards the work-situation of the temporary staff and brought this faculty group on the agenda of meetings concerning the handling of the Corona-crisis. We have multiple times proclaimed that the postdocs and other temporary faculty are left out of the discussions. As of now, only PhDs meeting the requirements stated in “Extention due to the coronavirus pandemic for PhD candidates” at Innsida are eligible for an extension. While postdocs and other temporary employees cannot apply for an extension, we are pleased that NTNU has focused on extensions for PhDs which have the most pressing schedule to produce results. With that said, Akademikerne wished for a less strict guideline for an extension.
Akademikerne-NTNU is always there for its members and will continue to promote the temporary staff of NTNU. We do not have any member-events planned right now, but we are available to help our members both regarding difficult situations that can occur as a result of the Corona-crisis and for other inquiries.”
There are a couple of new surveys that have been posted on Innsida. One of them is regarding the well-being of students and the effects that coronavirus related lockdowns have had on the work, mental health, productivity and learning. The results are relevant to our university/college because it can feedback information on how to organize potential future lockdowns. Because this survey is conducted in multiple countries, they will also be able to access the impact of national policy on well-being and health in the student population.
If you were looking for a chance to give your feedback on how things were handled, this is it. We recommend you to take the survey.
The survey can be found here (International COVID-19 Student Well-being Study):
This morning, there was a digital staff meeting on handling the corona situation, where current news and guidelines have been discussed with Rector Anne Borg.
DION attended the meeting and summarized the following key notes, some specifically relevant for PhDs, PostDocs and temporary staff:
- From 25. May slow opening of campus to more employees. It is still recommended to work home office if you do not need to be present at campus. All measurements to prevent the spread of the virus still apply.
- Contract extension: NTNU sticks to individual assessment of each PhD candidate for extensions. Make sure to be in contact with your leader/supervisor so they are aware of what you are struggling with and how much you are delayed. Recommendation from unions and DION: List your daily working hours to record how much time you are potentially losing due to home office.
- Extension for externally funded projects: Talk to your leader/supervisor. NFR has for example signaled that they are potentially willing to adjust the delivery goal for projects financed by them. Check out this possibility if you are externally financed.
- Research exchange/conference after the summer: Not recommended until end of 2020, there can be exceptions when necessary. In general this also depends on future travel recommendations/rules from the government.
- Teaching will be a combination of digital and physical activity in autumn. There will be more information which courses shall be thought how in the near future.
- If you struggle physically or mentally, please contact the occupational health service to receive help and advice (the OHS is a free and independent service for all employees)