7 May 2014
Day of Action calls for end of ‘no-rights’ casualisation culture in universities and colleges
• Millions of students taught by staff with few rights or facilities • 30% of college teachers and 17% of university teachers on zero-hours contracts • 67% of university researchers on temporary contracts
Members of UCU across the UK are taking part in a day of action today to draw attention to the vast numbers of staff employed on zero-hours or other temporary contracts in universities and colleges.
The union says the sector is overly reliant on casualised staff with millions of students taught every day by temporary teachers with little or no employment rights or job security. Freedom of Information requests by UCU found that, in 112 further education colleges, 30% of teaching staff were on zero-hours or similar contracts.
In universities a similar report (.pdf) [340kb] of 75 institutions found 17% of teaching staff were on zero-hours or similar contracts. Among university researchers, 67% of staff were on temporary contracts.
UCU said the exploitation of staff is damaging for education with insecure staff unable to build up long term relationships with their students, denied office and other facilities and constantly looking for the next contract. Staff report that without permanent contracts, they find it difficult to gain mortgages or loans, or plan their careers or families.
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: ‘Students in colleges and universities would be horrified if they knew that many of those who teach them have little or no employment rights, no job security and that most of our groundbreaking research staff are without permanent contracts.
‘The UK’s excellent academic reputation has unfortunately been built upon the disgraceful exploitation of thousands of temporary staff, with universities and colleges using the fierce competition for permanent jobs to create a no-rights culture for teachers and researchers.
‘Universities and colleges receive £24bn a year from government and many billions more from students yet too many are happy to adopt appalling working practices which leave many staff unable to get a mortgage or plan a family.