Casualisation: Letter to HR

The following letter has been sent to Zoe Lewandowski, Director of HR.

 UCU Edinburgh Branch
15/03/17

Dear Zoe

As you will be aware, the issue of insecure contracts in the higher education sector now has a very high public profile. You will also know that this is a UK wide priority issue for the University and College Union.

We believe that we have a common interest in improving the contractual terms of employment of academic and related staff in higher education. While a few individuals may find them appropriate to their circumstances, the truth is that for the vast majority, insecure contracts have a seriously detrimental effect on their well being. The results of locally organised surveys of Guaranteed Hours staff have clearly demonstrated dissatisfaction about working conditions and staff engaged on casual contracts have expressed a strong desire for more secure employment.

We are pleased that the University of Edinburgh recognised our concerns on casual contracts some years ago and that in 2014 replaced the practice of engaging staff on “hours to be notified” (HTBN) with the introduction of the Guaranteed Hours (GH) contract. However, while the move away from the HTBN model was a positive step forward, in reality it just replaced one precarious contract of employment with another.

Addressing casualisation within the workforce remains a priority for UCU and we want to ensure that we have the appropriate mechanisms for monitoring and enhancing employment practices.

GH staff still report limited access to training and development, lack of career progression, lack of job security and inconsistent rates of pay. Although GH staff are guaranteed a minimum number of paid hours in an academic year, these hours are reviewed and renewed annually and some teaching staff report that their working hours remain unconfirmed the week before teaching starts. Indeed, in 2016-17, in some areas of the university GH tutors did not receive their contracts until after the teaching term had finished, leaving them working for an entire semester without a contract, which is dangerous to both the institution and the staff member in terms of securing teaching for students. In the same period, some staff on GH contracts report having been given such a low number of guaranteed hours on their contract that after a few weeks of teaching they were effectually on a zero hour contract with no secure pay (as they had worked the minimum number of hours stipulated in the contract) which leaves the university left without any certainty of having enough staff to teach students.

UCU is concerned that a significant amount of student teaching is being delivered by staff on GH contracts and that this will have an impact on learning and teaching quality. So, in addition to asking whether GH contracts are the most appropriate model of employment, we would question whether this model is the most appropriate. While there is a narrative repeated that most staff on GH contracts are PhD students who teach as part of their professional development, the reality is that many GH staff obtained their PhD many years ago, and are kept on as part of a kind of ‘pool’ of tutors to call in when needed. These postdoctoral tutors, who often teach not only on pre-honours but also honours and postgraduate levels, are not paid for research, which makes the University’s commitment to research-informed teaching ring hollow.

We believe that this should be a priority issue for both ourselves and the university, and we know that when we have negotiated in good faith we have seen positive progress in the interests of staff, students and universities. At the heart of the claim we are making is a call to establish a permanent joint mechanism for reviewing, monitoring and negotiating around the issue of secure contracts, building on our existing arrangements. We are calling on the university to make a commitment to work with us to reduce insecurity through this apparatus.

Specifically we are calling for negotiations on our claim which is the following:

1. The establishment of a standing joint review group with a remit to:

a) Review the GH contract model with a view to developing an alternative contractual model.

b) Monitor and review the arrangements under the Enhancing Employment strategy for transferring staff onto more secure contracts, and ensure that this is working effectively

c) Receive, review and monitor data on the employment of staff on non-permanent contracts

d) Review the working hours of GH tutors and demonstrators to ensure consistency of pay and allocation of marking and preparation time

e) Review the issue of training, support and career progression for GH tutors and demonstrators to ensure consistency across schools

and

2. An understanding from the University that this process will not be cost-neutral and agreement that investment in contractual employment that supports high quality research informed teaching will require additional resources.

We look forward to building on our positive negotiations on the Enhancing Employment strategy and welcome your response to our claim.

Yours sincerely,

Suzanne Trill
(UCUE Secretary)

Advertisements

Stand up to Racism demonstration, Glasgow 18th March 2017

Stand up to Racism Scotland calls on everyone to mobilise to ensure that the March 18th 2017 demonstration in Glasgow is a massive success. Following Trump’s ban on Muslims and refugees, we will send out a clear message that we will not tolerate racism, discrimination, and division in our community.
STUR demo Supported by EIS, Peoples Assemby Scotland, RMT Scotland, Scotland Against Criminalising Communities, STUC, UCU Scotland, Unison Scotland, Unite Scotland, Muslim Women’s Association of Edinburgh.

Assemble 11am in Holland Street, Glasgow
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/Holland+St,+Glasgow+G2+4NB/@55.8643181,-4.2690656,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x48884428787a6345:0xfe7cd9ee5cfb781d!8m2!3d55.8643181!4d-4.2668769

March to George Square, 12 o’clock rally.

Facebook event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1584165985223946/

Stand Up to Racism: Public Rally, 9th March

sutr

Come to this rally to discuss how we can confront the rise in racism and build a broad anti racist movement. We want to go onto the streets in our tens of thousands on 18 March to stand up to racism.

  • Stand up to Trump
  • Refugees and migrants welcome here
  • No to racism, Islamophobia & antisemitism
  • Defend EU workers
  • Black Lives Matter

Speakers

  • Ian Murray, MP Edinburgh South, Labour
  • Safeena Rashid, Muslim Women’s Association of Edinburgh
  • Issa Robson, 1DayWithoutUs
  • Larry Flanagan, EIS General Secretary
  • Celia Gonzalez, organiser of No Muslim Ban demo
  • Richard Haley, Scotland Aganist Criminalising Communities
  • Monica Medina, EIS, Anti-racist sub-committee
  • Helen Martin, Scottish Trade Union Council, Assistant Secretary
  • Alison Newell, Edinburgh University Chaplaincy
  • Nick Gardner, Leith Labour Councillor

Date, Time, Venue

Thursday 9 March, 7pm

Lecture Theatre 1, Appleton Tower
University of Edinburgh
11, Crichton Street
EH8 9LE

Flyer and Further Details

Download here (pdf)

 

 

 

 

Change!

change

As part of the Scottish Union Learning young workers’ project, you are invited to “Change!”, an evening of literature hosted by young and migrant workers.

Taking place from 6.30pm on Thursday 16th March at the STUC building on Woodlands Road in Glasgow, we hope that you will help us celebrate the launch of our new book, which has been written about and by people on zero hours contracts. With the title being revealed on the night, we’ll hear excerpts read by young writers and activists who will share their lives on zero hour contracts with us.

Pinar Aksu

Pinar Aksu

We will also hear from Pinar Aksu, Community Development worker with Migrant Voice, and participants from the “A Story in a Poem project” who will read some of the poems they have written about their journey to Scotland.

Refreshments will be provided so get there early to avoid missing out!

From precarious work to precarious lives, the theme of the evening is ‘Change’ and what this means for us in 2017. As a labour movement, we want to ensure that we are inclusive and seek new opportunities of integration for all.

More information