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Fixed-Term Contracts

UCU Anti-casualisation Open meeting – 23 November 2016

Are you or your colleagues employed on a fixed term/hourly paid/zero hour contract? Do you feel treated less-favourably than permanent staff?  Do you face difficulties planning your future career development?  Or even face financial problems through insecure contracts?  If so, we would like to invite you to attend a meeting to discuss your concerns.

The campaign against casualisation is one of UCU’s national priorities and we are delighted that Jonathan White, UCU’s Bargaining Policy and Negotiations Official, will address the meeting to discuss the work UCU is doing to improve working conditions, and to help move staff onto contracts that give them stability and continuity of employment.

You do not need to be a member of UCU to attend this meeting.

Please join us at:

12:30 to 13:30

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Room 58/1007 L/T C (Murray Building)

Highfield Campus

Dr Jenny Rohn and the Science Is Vital Campaign

We were pleased to host Dr Jenny Rohn of the Science Is Vital Campaign for our Anti-Casualisation Day of Action on 6 March.  Dr Rohn gave us a stimulating and enlightening presentation on the Campaign’s work on academic job security and their current push for protecting research funding in the UK.

For those of you who missed the event, Dr Rohn has given us permission to upload her presentation slides herePlease note that these slides should not be re-used without her permission, nor are they intended for general public dissemination!

6 March – Anti-Casualisation Day of Action

On Wednesday 6th March UCU is holding an Anti-Casualisation Day of Action. This day will be a platform for publicizing the issues associated with the growing over-use of fixed-term contracts and the proliferation of poorly-paid and poorly-valued casualised positions in UK academia. We will be spending the day holding information stalls and running events to raise awareness of these problems, and to inspire colleagues on casualised contracts to join our union and help us in our local bargaining efforts.

What is happening at Southampton:

1. 11:00 to 14:00 – We are running two information stalls to be run at the Highfield and Avenue Campuses, at these stalls you will be able to ask about national UCU policy and current local branch priorities with respect to Fixed Term Contracts.

We will also have a large variety of campaign materials, flyers, posters, and stickers available which we encourage you to pass along to colleagues and put around your workplace to show your support. If you’d like to become involved in our anti-casualisation campaigns, we will be happy to advise you on how to join our efforts!

2. 15:00 to 17:00 – We will be running a workshop called Casualisation and Academic Careers, to be held in building 34/3001. The workshop will feature several different speakers:

Dr Joe Viana, Southampton UCU Fixed-Term Contract Representative, will explain why you should get involved in our anti-casualisation efforts and the challenges we face in this area;

Dr Eric Silverman, Southampton UCU President, will talk about our extensive local bargaining agenda on this issue and will give a summary of the national picture;

Dr Julie Reeves, from the University of Southampton Professional Development Unit, will detail how the University aims to support the career development of researchers and academics on fixed-term contracts;

Dr Jenny Rohn of the Science is Vital Campaign, our special guest speaker, will discuss the Campaign’s grassroots efforts to promote the importance of a strong science base to the UK’s economy and international reputation. For more information, please visit the Campaign’s website. In particular, we recommend reading their report titled Careering Out Of Control, which does a fantastic job of summarising the current unsustainable nature of the academic career path.

Please do come and join us for the Day of Action! The issue of casualisation affects all of us — it forces thousands of our colleagues to endure job insecurity, poor work-life balance, and high stress levels; it reduces the productivity of our academic teams and causes us to lose promising talent and valuable expertise; and it splits academia against itself, creating inequality and animosity between permanent staff and casualised staff.

The academic career structure is becoming increasingly dominated by casualised contracts, and we must act now to protect our friends and colleagues!

We will be using the attached poster (AntiCas Poster) to promote the event and encourage academics on casualised contracts to join us on the day. If you feel able, please do print out a copy and place it on your door so that your colleagues can see what we have planned.

The national UCU office has also provided a lot of excellent flyers and other materials for the Day of Action, which you can find here.

Southampton UCU will have plenty of hard copies of these materials available closer to the day, so please contact us if you require any copies to distribute in your workplace.

In solidarity,

Eric Silverman (President) & Joe Viana (Fixed Term Contract Rep)

Article about casualisation in academia from The Guardian

There’s a good article in The Guardian today about job insecurity amongst younger academics.  It provides some personal stories from young academics on insecure contracts (including myself!) and mentions the Anti-Casualisation Day of Action on 6 March, organised by Ed Bailey and the national UCU campaigns team:

The University and College Union (UCU) is holding a national day of action for casual workers next month. It says that higher education has become one of the most casualised sectors in the UK – second only to the hospitality industry. Edward Bailey, who is leading the protest for the union, says: “We are seeing an increase in people who are on successive fixed-term contracts for years on end. There is a feeling that universities are calling all the shots and they should be grateful just to have a job, but these places shouldn’t be sausage factories.”

Please give it a read and spread the word to your colleagues.  The more attention drawn to this issue, the more chances we have to enact change!

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Eric Silverman

Southampton UCU President

Researchers, Fixed-Term Contracts, and Universities

Vitae, an organisation supporting the development of researchers in higher education, released an interesting report in 2010 describing the current state of the laws around fixed-term contracts and their implementation in higher education.  The Foreword gives a good summary of the intent of the report:

 

“We believe that a positive management culture which supports the development of staff is essential to building a successful higher education institution. To make the case that a well- managed workforce is a productive workforce it is important that we are able to provide institutions with high quality, evidence-based information to benchmark themselves against. This Vitae report represents a major contribution to the evidence base about how to successfully manage researchers to ensure positive outcomes for researchers, their managers, the  institutions where they work and the sector as a whole.”

 

The report stresses the importance of productive, cooperative communication between institutions and researchers, in order to ensure that the arrangements in place take into account the needs of both parties.  For those members on fixed-term contracts, or for those who manage fixed-term contract staff, please take a look at this report and spread it around to anyone who may find it of interest.

 

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Eric Silverman (President) and Joe Viana (Fixed-Term Contract Representative)