By Ellie Brown, News Subeditor
An open letter from staff taking part in the UCU strike has called on the University to take casual staff concerns seriously.
The open letter has so far received 92 signatures with the majority of these are from staff in the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law.
Signatories include both permanent and temporary staff.
The demands have been made on behalf of ‘hourly paid teachers, teachers on fractional contracts and other casual staff’ at the University.'
In the letter, staff set out their concerns: 'many of us underpaid, under-protected and overworked. Improving the conditions, rights and security of University teachers will improve teachers’ ability to fully support students.’
'We hope that, in accordance with recent commitments to address casualisation you (the University) will respond to the following calls.’
Key demands include more time for teaching preparation, paid office hours, fixed-term contracts for hourly paid teachers, and support for maternity and paternity leave.
Ending 10-month contacts, more support for the mental and physical wellbeing of teachers, and equal treatment of language tutors are also part of the letter’s ‘calls for change.’
The statement concluded by expressing support for ‘colleagues in departments across the University who are writing to their Heads of School and Faculty Deans to raise their specific needs.'
'We make these calls for change in solidarity with casual staff across the Higher Education sector and with casual workers elsewhere.'
Lydia Medland, a member of the group said: ‘this letter is a call for change and is an effort to illustrate the problems that hourly paid teachers and other casual staff experience. It is signed by casual staff and those in support and solidarity with them.’
‘We will be collecting signatures and we will send the letter to the VC (Vice-Chancellor) in advance of the meeting that we hope to have with him.’
She also commented that ‘many of us have been making these points for years.’
The group is hoping to meet with Vice-Chancellor Hugh Brady before the end of the strikes on Wednesday 4 December.
In an earlier interview with Epigram's co-Editor-in-Chief, Patrick Sullivan, Vice-Chancellor Hugh Brady said: ‘On casualisation, I think we’re like-minded with our local UCU branch that we want to put as many contracts as possible on a more stable footing.'
'We have a Precarious Contracts Working Party, which is a joint initiative between the University and UCU to figure out ways that we can do that.’
‘[Another] issue that we know is really important for staff is workload. Staff have been working incredibly hard over the last number of years – both to further increase our academic reputation, but also to strengthen our balance sheet.’
The University have been contacted for comment.
Featured image credit: Student-Staff Solidarity Group
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