New UCU campaign to reduce casual contracts for University staff


By Zoë Crowther, Students’ Union Correspondent

Bristol University and College Union (UCU) is launching Humans. Not Resources, a campaign to challenge the University’s use of insecure contracts for 53.2 per cent of all teaching staff. *

This dispute is part of a wider campaign by the UCU to tackle casualised employment, including insecure contracts of 9-10 months, hourly pay and hours of unpaid work. Bristol UCU shall henceforth be lobbying the University to make a shift ‘towards open-ended secure contracts of employment [that] underpin high quality teaching and research,’ according to Jamie Melrose, Bristol UCU Secretary and Anti-Casualisation Officer.

Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) *
Epigram / Zoë Crowther

To further the Humans. Not Resources campaign, UCU shall begin negotiations with the University on 22 November. Their aim is to reach an agreement by January 2019, with a joint statement of intent from the University to reduce casualised employment.

A University spokesperson has said: ‘As a large employer, we are committed to ensuring that our staff have terms of employment that are fair, competitive and secure. We recognise that having non-permanent work contracts is an issue with some of our staff.

‘We welcome the opportunity to meet with the UCU this month to look at ways where we can improve and are confident we can move forward on this together.’

Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA)
Epigram / Zoë Crowther

The campaign shall launch with an event on Wednesday 21 November, which shall bring Bristol academic staff and teaching postgraduates together to share their experiences of casualised employment. Contributors to the event shall include the Leeds UCU President Vicky Blake and other members of the national academic community.

Bristol UCU Branch President, Tracey Hooper, said that there are many teachers who report ‘significant quantities of unpaid labour, not being paid for essential training or key meetings.’ This is in contrast to the greater security of employment granted to high-paying senior roles.

Casualisation of employment has been a consistent theme across UCU campaigns over the last few years. It is expected that this call for improved working conditions shall also be made on the basis that failure to provide staff security could have a negative impact on students' learning conditions.

* Note: the latest HESA statistics show that 53.2% of teaching staff are on insecure contracts compared to 45.9% of academic staff, with academic staff including those employed in research.

Featured image: University and College Union

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Zoë Crowther

Students' Union Correspondent