“There is no job security, and you are unable to plan ahead”

The problems of being on a zero-hour contract are manifold. There is no job security from year to year and you are unable to plan ahead because you never know how much you will be earning in the future.

In my own case, I find it difficult to arrange childcare because of the variability of the hours on offer. Moreover, I have been expected to go to meetings that I am only partially paid for or sometimes I get nothing at all. I attended a meeting recently and my manager was most disapproving because I walked out at the time I had been paid up to.

I work in FE and you are only paid for contact time with the students so all preparation has to be done in your own time. No holidays are paid for so you have some months when you get no wage at all. If the departmental budget is all spent before the end of the academic year then you are told that you have to finish working early; even if a later ending date was agreed in the previous September.

The consequence of this treatment is that you feel under-valued as an employee. Full-time staff do exactly the same job but they are paid for doing preparation and for their holidays.

Zero-hour workers are exploited and vulnerable because no one dares to say too much to management for fear of not getting any hours. Also, the staff who ingratiate themselves with the management are often seen to get the pick of the part-time hours.

The fact is a zero-hour contract is not there to provide an employee with flexibility but to provide an employer with a cheap labour force!

Manchester UCU – Bargaining and campaigning for casualised staff over the long term

Manchester University is one of the biggest research intensive universities in the UK, employing more than 1,700 research staff. With such a large body of researchers, the use of casualised fixed-term contracts has long been a big issue at the university, which is one reason why the local UCU branch has made it a long-term strategic objective to win greater security and continuity of employment and fairer treatment for these staff. What’s notable and interesting about Manchester UCU’s approach is how long they have persevered, combined organising, campaigning and long-term negotiations to win comprehensive local agreements that cover their casualised staff. As we’ll see, problems remain, which make it necessary to organise, campaign and negotiate constantly to police how these agreements are implemented. But the lessons are there, nonetheless.

Greater security for fixed-term staff

When the fixed-term regulations came into force in 2006, like lots of other branches, Manchester’s used it as an opportunity to press their HR department to transfer large numbers of fixed-term staff. As it became apparent that this wasn’t happening, they sought to press management for a local policy and started to campaign and organise among fixed-term staff to create pressure from below. Under joint union pressure, a university working group was convened in 2006 and by May 2007 it was discussing an initial draft policy.

It wasn’t till December 2010 that the branch was finally able to win agreement on a progressive policy covering fixed-term contract staff. This included the crucial policy commitment to ‘seek to employ people on permanent contracts where possible’. The agreement also included a tight and narrow definition of the circumstances under which it was appropriate to use a fixed-term contract.

Perhaps most importantly, the university made a commitment to end the use of ‘hybrid’ open-ended contracts with a stipulated end date. Instead, Manchester agreed to recognise only two kinds of contract: fixed-term and permanent. This meant that research staff whose employment depended on external funding won important new protections. They were contractually no different from other permanent employees and won equal rights to other permanent staff when the term to their funding placed them at risk of redundancy, including being properly consulted with a view to avoiding redundancy, being placed on the redeployment register and getting redundancy pay. In addition, individuals made redundant via this route would continue to be paid employees, on the redeployment register for three months after their funding ceased. Finally, the termination of fixed-term contracts, the threat of redundancy among externally funded research staff and the general policing of the policy were to be monitored by a fixed-term contracts committee. The agreement would, the university said, give the ‘opportunity to enhance the quality of employment’, while ‘working toward a balance between flexibility and efficient and fair working practices’.

The branch continue to use the new machinery established under the agreement to ensure that the policy is implemented properly, which needs constant vigilance. There continue to be plenty of examples where the policy is not followed, so it needs constant monitoring through the bargaining machinery established through the agreement. But the agreement is a major improvement for research staff at Manchester and the branch continue to organise around it to ensure that researchers know their rights and they included it in their recent recruitment work.

More rights for Graduate Teaching Assistants and no Zero-Hours contracts

In 2010, as the research contracts policy was being signed off, the branch also began to organise and campaign around the need for a similar policy to cover its Graduate Teaching Assistant population, mainly, but not solely comprised of PhD students. Meetings of GTAs were organised to find out the extent of the problems and build support for an agreement during June and November 2010.

In April 2011, the university agreed to set up a teaching assistant review group and the branch sought to ensure that GTAs were able to feed into these group meetings. Consultation meetings on early draft policies were organised with GTAs and other hourly paid staff. Then, late in 2012, the branch signed off a final GTA agreement.

Under the final policy, the university agreed to ensure that GTAs all received one of a family of formalised job descriptions referenced against the nationally agreed academic role profiles and all received a formal contract of employment. Under the agreement, all GTAs were assimilated to the National Pay spine and those who had worked up four years service had incremental progression.

A key win under the policy was the general policy commitment to ensure that teaching assistants ‘should not be treated as casual’. This commitment is delivered on via a range for mechanisms including the transfer of staff after four years of fixed-term contracts and can include the use of pro-rata contracts.

Another critical achievement was the commitment to eradicate zero hours contracts. Zero hours contracts had been widely used in some faculties but the branch scored a major success in winning management to the idea that there was benefit in moving all these staff on a‘defined hours’ contract with a few retained on ‘minimal hours contract’ to allow for specific flexibilities. The branch were able to convince management that such defined hours contracts ‘would give greater stability and reliability in the use of teaching assistants.’

Again, of course, there remain problems with implementing the agreement, yet despite this its mere existence gives local reps the opportunity to hold management to account.

What’s most impressive about Manchester UCU’s achievement is the fact that as far back as 2004, the branch identified casualised staff as a strategic priority. Having done so, they made a long-term commitment to the issue and to combining campaigning, organising and collective bargaining over the long-haul. It’s not perfect and like any policy, it needs to be constantly policed which requires the branch to keep organising and talking to management. But there’s no doubt that these agreements have paid off in the form of real improvements for many vulnerable staff.

A View from the Anti-Casualisation Fringe – Congress 2014

The fringe began with a summary of the Day of Action and recent activities of the Anti-Casualisation Committee (ACC) such as our media work and collection of testimonies of affected staff given by the Chair and Vice Chair. Alexis Wearmouth of SOAS then gave a detailed account of the successful campaign he and his colleagues had conducted resulting in substantially improved terms and conditions for fractional contract staff with a settlement amounting to £150,000, bringing their 6-week work to rule to a conclusion. In a college environment where fractional staff do the bulk of front-line teaching, the existence of a coherent lobbying group with a political science or development studies background had contributed to a growing sense of solidarity but the crucial tool at SOAS had been their statistical survey and the compelling evidence it produced. Alexis was followed by Faizi Ismail’s account of the development of action among casualised staff at Liverpool Metropolitan University. She set out the measures her group had undertaken to create a network of casual zed staff and to publicize their campaign. Bob Jeffery of Sheffield Hallam also alluded to the positive effects of their survey, while Des Freeman of Goldsmiths pointed to efforts made in the college to promote equal treatment for part-timers. Jim Davenport from the London Region discussed the use of action tool-kits and of branch level casualised staff representatives . David Drayton from Middlesex College explained some of the legal measures that can be invoked by part-time and zero-hours staff. Charles Fox then explained the struggle for better conditions for part-time and casualised researchers at UCL and elsewhere.

The different activities referred to by the speakers and from the floor included survey work, IT test cases, and successfully opposing out-sourcing to employment agencies (such as UNITEMPS at the University of Warwick which services several universities). It was observed that there was a determination on the part of employers to “normalize HRC’s and to find loopholes to continue to exploit casualised workers in higher and further education. It was generally felt at the meeting that “if we don’t secure the rights of casualised staff- employers will also casualise the secure”. David Armstrong from Barnet & Southgate College gave an account of his branch’s work on equal pay case-work and collective agreement and outlined some highly successful cases. At Barnet & Southgate a ‘war of attrition’ focusing on the easier to win cases has begun to turn the tide against indiscriminate use of casualisation. Christiana Payne from London Met which has over 800 hourly paid lecturers, gave a comprehensive account of their ongoing work to smash management’s efforts to undermine them and to build up an effective resistance. More generally, some of the potential legal measures and action strategies for contact staff were discussed in the room. Jonathan White (UCU) gave some evidence of case-law and of the state of play regarding ZHC’s in both H/FE.

The fringe attracted about 60 attendees and reinforced the strong voice of casualized staff at Congress. It was apparent from this rich discussion which threatened to spill into the formal session time for Congress, that casualization was being challenged in a multiplicity of institutions and much evidence was gathered which would be of use to the ACC in planning future strategy.

Terry Duffy, Glyndwr University  

A year of working for precarious staff

OJ

Zeroing in on zero hours contracts

Hardly a week goes by at the moment without a press story about Zero Hours Contracts, which is why UCU and the Anti-Casualisation Committee in particular have worked hard to capitalize on the issue’s current public and political profile of zero hours contracts to push institutions to move away from such exploitation.

In September 2013, as Ed Miliband pledged that a future Labour government would legislate to end the abuse of zero-hours contracts, UCU directly lobbied the Labour leader and the Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Ummuna, including face-to-face meetings with ACC Vice Chair Mahmoona Shah. Under pressure on the issue, the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills opened an informal consultation, to which UCU responded in March this year.

While much of the discussion of zero hours contracts has focused on their use in the service sector, UCU has worked hard to shine a light on their use in post-secondary education. In October 2013, following a motion to that year’s Congress, UCU conducted a Freedom of Information request on every university, higher education institution and further education college asking about their use of zero-hours contract. The union then published the results, showing that zero hours contracts were being widely used in sixty-one percent of further education colleges in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and 53% of UK universities.

In April 2014, two UCU Scotland lecturers on zero-hours contracts appeared before the Scottish Affairs Select Committee to give detailed evidence to MPs. Later in the same month, the Labour Party published the Pickavance report into zero hours contracts and Ed Miliband pledged to legislate to provide some rights to proper contracts.

Meanwhile, UCU has kept zero hours contracts in post-secondary education in the press, with a succession of stories and features in the Guardian, the Times Higher and, very recently, the Sunday Times.

This pressure is beginning to tell. In October 2013, under pressure from UCU and the Scottish administration, Edinburgh University promised to end its use of zero-hours contracts and in May this year, other Scottish universities were at pains to reassure the press that they are working to similarly reduce them. In April and May, as the pay came to an end, work began at JNCHES on the other parts of the joint unions’ claim including discussions over the use of zero-hours contracts in the sector.

But the union has also sought to capitalize on this pressure at local level, using the information from the FOI to establish target institutions in every region and starting to build pressure on those institutions to end the use of zero-hours contracts.

Mainstreaming the issue

The FOI data highlighted shocking levels of causalisation – 30% of teaching staff in FE colleges, and 67% of university researchers on precarious contracts. This is very much a mainstream issue which is affecting a growing proportion of staff. It is also about preventing the de-skilling of educators and defending professionalism against the proliferation of low paid, precarious work. This is why the Anti-casualisation Committee has been working to ensure the needs of casualised members are reflected in the pay claim. The needs of casualised members were acknowledged in the 2014 HE pay claim. Motions to both sector conferences in June note the need for pay claims to acknowledge casualisation as a central issue.

Other motions focus on providing support and guidance to branches on ensuring the voice of casualised members is represented and heard, and meaningful data collection to enable branches to organise and recruit more effectively.

Decent contracts for all hourly paid staff

The fact that so many hourly paid staff have turned out to be on zero hours contracts has given the union a great opportunity to press institutions on their use an abuse of hourly paid staff more generally. That’s why UCU has launched a drive to finally complete the process of getting all hourly paid staff in HE assimilated to the national pay framework. UCU has also continued to push for good local agreements that get hourly paid staff onto a decent pay rate with proper progression and a clear pathway to fractional contracts.

Defending researchers

April 2013 saw the government’s law change come into force to remove the obligation on employers to include staff whose fixed-term contracts end when establishing the need for collective consultation over redundancies. This is a blatant attack on fixed-term research staff in particular, shamefully instigated following lobbying by university heads.

UCU has challenged this law change in the European Courts. The union has also written to every employer in the sector urging them to retain best practice in the sector and encouraging branches to raise this as a matter of urgency and we continue to monitor the employers’ responses.

Raising the profile of casualisation in the union

The profile of casualisation and of the Anti-Casualisation Committee have arguably never been higher. This year saw the Committee publish two editions of Anti-Casualisation news, in spring and winter of 2013 as well as launch a new blogsite (https://ucuanticas.wordpress.com) and build its social media profile on Twitter (@UCUAnti_Cas).

In February 2014, socialist writer and journalist Owen Jones addressed another well-attended annual meeting, motions were passed that formed the basis of the Committee’s motions to UCU’s Congress and a new committee was elected.

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7 May saw the Anti-Casualisation Day of Action with branches across the country holding stalls, meetings, launching surveys and pledging to organise actions over the coming months to raise the profile of casualisation. Every member on a casualised contract was also emailed with a request to send the message to a member of staff they know on a casual contract and the General Secretary was featured in a Telegraph blog on casualisation in further and higher education.

Into next year…

At its inaugural meeting in May, the new Anti-Casualisation Committee established that it would continue to use the public attention on zero hours contracts to continue supporting and promoting local and national initiatives to eradicate zero-hours contracts. It also decided to use this opportunity to support and promote local action to provide greater continuity of employment, fairer pay, equality of treatment and proper professional contracts for all casualised staff. We need to talk about casualisation. But now is also the time to raise the demands for local action.

What you can do:

  • Review your branch’s priorities: how can you push forward on job security, continuity of employment and fair contracts for casualised staff in the next year?
  • Pledge to hold a meeting for casualised staff in the next year.
  • Download or order campaign materials: http://www.ucu.org.uk/socc_materials
  • Tell us what you’re doing for casualised staff – we know there’s lots of good work going on out there. Email what you’re doing to: anticasualisation@ucu.org.uk

Keep up to date with UCU’s campaigning on casualisation

Follow us on Twitter at @UCUAnti_Cas
Join the Anti-casualisation email network:http://www.ucu.org.uk/elists

Message of Solidarity from IFUT #AntiCas14

Our sister union in Ireland has sent the following solidarity message for today’s Anti-Casualisation Day of Action:

“On behalf of the Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT) I have great pleasure in sending greetings of solidarity and support to your Anti-Casualisation Day of Action.

Insecurity of employment in any sector of society is a cruel imposition on vulnerable people in the interests of profit and unfair levels of control. However, in the area of higher education, casualisation is a lethal weapon used to undermine the principle and practice of academic freedom. We in IFUT see the campaign against growing casualisation not only as a battle on behalf of our own members directly affected but as part of a wider, more fundamental struggle to maintain not just decent standards of work but also to preserve such socially essential rights as academic freedom and the free pursuit of knowledge.
We are proud to be in the same frontline as you today.”

Mike Jennings

General Secretary

Irish Federation of University Teachers

http://www.ifut.ie @Ifut

We Need To Talk About Casualised Staff…Day of Action 7 May 2014

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Stamp Out Casual Contracts

UCU’S Anti-Casualisation campaign is fighting the abuses faced by staff on casual contracts within further and higher education. We hope that all members will support this campaign and stand with colleagues on casual contracts to put an end to such abuse.

The UCU National Day of Action aims:

  • to recruit staff on casualised/insecure contracts
  • to encourage more members to be involved in their union
  • to campaign in support of negotiating improvements

Your branch may be holding recruitment stalls, meetings, rights workshops and other events on the day itself and those following. If your branch hasn’t agreed anything yet don’t worry. The Day of Action is about launching ongoing campaigning and organising for the coming year too. Anyone can take part in the campaign, and everyone who does will make a difference! Here are a couple of really easy things you can do to support the Day of Action and the fight for secure contracts that goes beyond it – remember we need support of staff on casualised and permanent, salaried contracts:

  1. Ask your branch to pledge to hold a meeting on casualisation before the end of term. Once your branch has agreed, email the pledge to anticasualisation@ucu.org.uk. Check the website for suggested activities and downloadable resources
  2. 2.    Take a photo of yourself with one of our downloadable posters and email it to us – with your name and institution – so that we can add it to our photo album for the day.
  3. Tweet your solidarity picture to @UCUAnti_Cas and use the hashtag #anticas14 – we’re making a collage of the solidarity photos! (You can obscure your face with the poster if you’re shy or worried)
  4. Forward the recruitment email that comes out on the day to colleagues and talk to them about joining UCU
  5. Sign up to and attend the national UCU Anti-Casualisation Training and Organising Conference on Thursday 5th June! (Travel expenses reimbursed by the national union)

 Staff on casualised contracts matter to UCU

THE UCU ANTI-CASUALISATION CAMPAIGN IS AN ISSUE FOR ALL STAFF

UCU Anti-Casualisation Training and Organising Conference Thursday 5 June (London UCU HQ)

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Following UCU’s Anti-Casualisation Day of Action there will be a conference for members on casualised contracts who would like to get more involved with their branches.

Last year’s event proved very popular so please register early.  The day will include:

  • A review of the day of action
  • An organising workshop – learn how to campaign, recruit and build support
  • Continuing professional development – a taster session (see  http://cpd.web.ucu.org.uk/  for the range of UCU resources)

More details will be available soon.  To register (it is self-registration), please go to:

https://ucu.wufoo.com/forms/anticasualisation-trainingorganising/

The deadline for registrations is 23 May.  Lunch will be provided and reasonable travel expenses will be paid. Any queries, please contact anticasualisation@ucu.org.uk

 

A Precarious Life: Bristol meeting report

 

One more

One more fixed-term contract and I’ll have this room finished (man wallpapers room with fixed-term contracts)

On a casualised contract? Tired of feeling alone, vulnerable and underrepresented? On Wednesday, 22nd January, University of Bristol UCU hosted A Precarious Life: A UCU Anti-Casualisation Workshop. Organised by Tracey Hooper, Bristol Vice President, and Jamie Melrose, Bristol Hourly-Paid Teacher (HPT) Rep, as well as Ana Lopes, UWE UCU Research & Associate Lecturer Rep, and Hedley Bashforth, University of Bath UCU Secretary, A Precarious Life saw HPTs, fixed-term researchers, graduate teaching assistants, UCU members and all manner of staff on casualised (as well as full time!) contracts, from around the Bristol and Bath area, come together to discuss and organise around the issue of casualised labour in Higher Education

Keynote speech

The sessions that made up the day allowed participants to share their experiences; to detail the increasing institutional reliance on casualised staff in Bristol and Bath Universities and to begin to effectively organise around the issue. A Precarious Life kicked off with a keynote from Vicky Blake, Chair of the UCU Anti-Casualisation Committee (ACC). Vicky drew attention to how the concerns of casualised labour — job insecurity and workloads; the lack of institutional recognition — were becoming a key platform in UCU. The ACC is a good example of this. The casualisation of work in HE and Further Education (FE) is no longer a dirty, unarticulated secret: it is a matter of public concern. Vicky noted that union activity may seem like a bit of a jump for those currently in precarious jobs. One has potentially a lot to lose given the arbitrary way in which such labour is awarded. This acknowledged, UCU is increasingly aware it needs to be an open and inclusive organisation, aware of the casualised staff lot.

Know your rights

The session Know Your Rights, facilitated by Hedley and Nick Varney, UCU South West Regional Officer, focused on what UCU is doing with regard to insecure and low pay casualised contracts. Worryingly, these types of contracts are on the rise in HE and FE. There are egregious zero hours contracts with no working rights, agency contracts, and armies of teaching staff on variable contract (VHC) terms – where hours are agreed on a termly or annual basis. VHCs are often as insecure as zero hour’s contracts: no guaranteed hours or salary; teachers and researchers carrying out the activities of full time staff without compensation or equal treatment. HR departments often don’t even know how many people they employ on these contracts! After all, dismissal is only evidenced by not giving a new contract: many workers’ contracts end in May/June but they won’t know whether they have another contract until September.

In terms of what casualised staff should know, there are three key pieces of legislation:

  • Equal pay legislation governing pay differences between men and women
  • Part time workers legislation
  • Fixed term workers regulations in which if a worker is employed for a series of fixed terms where the gap between terms is because of the organisation of the academic year, after 4 years, these contracts can be made permanent

The last piece of legislation is particularly noteworthy as UCU wants to end VHCs (unless in certain emergency conditions). A key task, then, is to establish clear ‘trigger points’ for when people are given guaranteed hours with exactly the same terms and conditions as full-time equivalent staff. In the Q&A, Tracey added that Bristol UCU is currently leading on moving to fractional contracts.

Early Career & Contract Researchers

In the workshop Early Career & Contract Researchers, facilitator Kirsten Forkert from Birmingham City University explored the lot of the early career researcher (ECR). Participants talked about the ECR ‘catch-22’: having to show publications at job interviews whilst employed in teaching jobs or in roles in which their research does not contribute to their own profile. There is also a lack of institutional acknowledgment of ECRs in universities on the part of managers and full-time staff. Because of cuts in funding, the demise of the post-doc and the demands of the REF ‘complex’, ECRs are expected to perform above and beyond, bereft of the necessary recognition of their precarious, isolated, condition.

How to deal with all this? When it comes to, for example, setting up support networks, participants felt ECRs might not want to get involved. They are understandably concentrating on trying to develop their own research profiles. Suggestions were also made about UCU setting out a clear vision of an alternative research culture. Equally important is to connect the issue of casualisation with the general trend in HE regarding said culture. It is still difficult to raise awareness about these issues with some senior staff seeing casualised labour as a necessary rites of passage rather than an institutional choice on the part of university managers to devalue the wok of researchers.

Creative Protest

In the session Creative Protest, Chris Jury from Bath Spa University talked about the parallels between the 1980s deregulation of labour conditions in TV and film and what is now going on in HE and FE. For Chris, colleagues seem unable to conceive of what is coming their way in terms of casualisation: there seems to be an unwillingness to accept how much worse it can get. Most academics prefer not to oppose/organise but just persevere. Apathy is academia is unfortunately rife: private grumbling is not translated into public, collective action. There was some discussion about how to do this. Participants contended university workers need to focus on raising awareness about casualised contract conditions within universities. Moreover, a range of support and participation is crucial: The 3 Cosas Campaign at the University of London – staff and students working together – is a good example here.

In the concluding Q & A participants again reflected on the perennial issue: what is to be done. Jamie argued we need to think about modifying workplace behaviour: actively treating all university workers equally, rather than just passively assuming the supposed rigid “meritocratic” hierarchies enforced by senior and middle management. After all, when was the last time a Head of School proposed a genuine inclusive policy regarding casualised staff? There exists no real positive vision in our workplaces, our schools and departments, for how our research and teaching environments should resemble some of the values articulated by academics and UCU.

As for the general reception of A Precarious Life, there was a consensus that it represented an important first step in building a local and regional support network for staff on casualised contracts. The opportunity for people to meet fellow casualised staff served an important awareness-raising purpose. A Precarious Life will hopefully, at the very least, be the start of a sustained anti-casualisation effort at Bristol and Bath universities!

If you are interested in participating or finding out more about the above issues, please get in touch with us via anticasualisation@ucu.org.uk or Twitter @UCUAnti_Cas. If you’re in the South West please do get in touch with either Jamie Melrose — jamie.melrose@bristol.ac.uk or Tracey Hooper —t.a.hooper@bristol.ac.uk who organised the above event to get involved locally!

A special thanks to Cerelia Athanassiouand Maria Fannin for taking the notes!

Calling all UCU Members on Casualised Contracts!

Deadline extended to 5pm Wednesday 19th February
Are you: Fixed Term? Hourly Paid? Zero Hours? Agency Staff? Want to be part of fighting for secure contracts for all?
The Annual Meeting for Staff on Casualised Contracts is on 28th February 2014 – registration deadline *Wednesday 19th Feb*The Annual Meeting for Staff on Casualised Contracts is integral to forming and shaping policy on casualisation, fixed term and hourly paid issues, and to the planning of the forthcoming UCU Anti-Casualisation Day Of Action (date TBC, late Spring), which will highlight the problem of vulnerable employment in the sector and recruiting staff on casual contracts.Why not put yourself forward as one of your branch / LA delegates, and if you’d like to get even more involved, you can get nominated for election to ACC! (Email anticasualisation@ucu.org.uk for more info)What does it involve?

  • Debate and voting on motions submitted by branches and local associations, which will be used to advise the NEC about the views of our members on casual contracts, including fixed-term, hourly paid and agency members.
  • Hear & discuss reports on the work of UCU on issues related to staff on casualised contracts.
  • Useful (practical!) workshops for everyone whether a new or seasoned member/activist – this year:
    • Workshop 1 – Equality and Casualisation
    • Workshop 2 – Building Networks
    • Workshop 3 – Supporting negotiations against casualisation
  • Plenty of opportunities to network and share solidarity with colleagues (aka make friends and support each other in true union style!)

When?

Friday 28th February, 2014, 10.30am – 4.30 pm, lunch & refreshments included.
Registration Deadline = 19 February 2014

Where?

UCU HQ, Carlow Street (London)
Travel is reimbursed as per UCU guidelines, and if you’re coming a long way you may be able to request overnight accommodation.If you think you might struggle to cover the cost of travel upfront, UCU can buy your tickets on your behalf (get in touch to discuss).

How?

Each branch/local association may send two voting representatives to the annual meeting. Branch/local association representatives must have been approved either by a quorate branch meeting, quorate branch committee meeting or by a properly constituted meeting of members on casual contracts.You might also be thinking about standing for election to the Anti Casualisation Committee.
If you would like to register please get in touch with your branch/LA committee asap! The registration form must be completed by Branch Secretaries / LA Presidents or other officers of the Branch/LA on behalf of members wishing to attend the conference.

Reminder: Registration Deadline = 19 February 2014, Deadline for Nominations = 14 February 2014For more details please check http://www.ucu.org.uk/2751 or email anticasualisation@ucu.org.uk

The Absurdities of the (Precarious) Academy

by Anonymous 

 

It can be argued that bureaucratic systems may sometimes be justifiable if they make life simpler, easier, and more straightforward. However, they rarely seem to, and usually have the exact opposite effect: being an obstruction to getting anything done and making life unnecessarily more complicated than it needs to be; harder, and more difficult, the only purpose served being the reproduction of the bureaucratic system.

This is felt most keenly by short-term, precarious members of staff who rely on being paid on time much more than most…however, this is not something they can expect when their university uses a Cisco ‘self-service’ online pay claim system, which is so difficult to use, that the university has to resort to ‘offering’ ‘training’ to casual staff so that they can make some sense of how to use it.

The individualization of something you have absolutely no control over at all, and the shifting of responsibility on to the employee, is an issue I have raised repeatedly with management, however, I find that I am simply ignored with the stock response that I ‘must use it’, and if ‘you miss the arbitrary cut off date, there is no guarantee you’ll be paid on time’ – or even near the date due for that matter…