Leeds UCU is working hard to end casualised contracts in UK Higher Education. We think everyone at Leeds and other institutions should have a secure job, and that it is unacceptable that people live without knowing if they will be able to pay their rent or not due to precarious working conditions. Through our Anti-casualisation roadshow, Ignition (October 2018), the subsequent Anti-casualisation claim (January 2019) and our broader campaigns for fair pay we have highlighted the challenges faced by precariously employed staff and research students on teaching contracts and demanded the university pay attention.
To keep in touch with anti-casualisation news more broadly, follow Leeds Anticasualisation news @casualsleeds and nationally @UCUAnti_Cas. (The hashtag #zinesagainstprecarity may also be of interest as contains some great creative critiques of the current state of UK HE.)
The pay, casualisation, equality and workloads dispute is a joint one with the other Higher Education trade unions. At the University of Leeds, we have two sister unions, Unison and Unite, who represent support staff, and all three unions are balloting for industrial action in this dispute. We’ve organised a joint meeting to discuss the issues on Tuesday 15th October, 12 – 1, in Chemistry lecture theatre D (G35). Hope to see you there! UCU refers to this dispute as the ‘Four Fights’ (pay, casualisation, equality and workloads) – these four issues are interlinked. The detailed claim includes: A pay increase of RPI plus 3% or a minimum increase of £3,349 (whichever is greater).A 35 hour working week for all.Action to close the gender pay gap, and to work on closing the ethnic pay gap, taking account of the ways in which intersectionality affects pay and grading.A framework to eliminate precarious employment practices by universities, including ending zero hours contracts and moving hourly paid staff onto fractional contracts.Nationally-agreed payment to recognise excessive workloads. You can read the unions’ claim to the employers in full here: https://www.ucu.org.uk/media/10185/UCUBAN54-HE-pay-claim-2019-20/pdf/UCUBAN54.pdf UCU has urged the employers to stop spinning and start talking. All three unions …continue reading
Your ballot papers should have arrived – look out for a white A4 envelope with the UCU logo. If you can’t find it, request a new one at www.ucu.org.uk/ballotrequest (deadline Wednesday 23 October 12 noon). For queries about the ballot process please check our ballots FAQ. LAST DATE TO POST YOUR BALLOTS IS MONDAY 28 OCTOBER to get there by the deadline Wednesday 30 October. Best to post them before then to be safe. Please vote – don’t let that envelope disappear under the piles on your desk! It’s really important to have your democratic say, and your union needs to know what you think. The two disputes are linked. Inequality and casualisation in employment lead to inequality in retirement. Pay stagnation will reduce our incomes in retirement as well as squeezing us right now. Increased pension contributions mostly wipe out the tiny pay increase that has been imposed. Four fights dispute We were not impressed by the employers response to our annual pay and conditions claim. Pay inequality, casualisation, and excessive workloads are all significant problems at Leeds, as elsewhere. We had hoped that this year, the employers’ side (represented by UCEA) would negotiate sensible national agreements on these issues …continue reading
UCU’s annual congress is its supreme policy making body and it met this year over the May Bank Holiday in Harrogate. This report is an attempt to summarise three very full days of intense and important debates on the various areas with which UCU is concerned. Motion numbers are included in brackets for reference: a full account of all motions with decisions can be found here: www.ucu.org.uk/Congress2019 Congress business is ordered according to the business of various committees: equality; education; recruitment, organising and campaigning (ROC) and strategy and finance. There was a further section on democracy and rule changes. On the second day of congress, delegates divide into a Higher Education Sector Conference and a Further Education Sector Conference. The agenda was very busy indeed. As a result, some motions could not be debated. Those relating to rule changes will be sent to the special Democracy Conference to be held in November; the rest are remitted to the National Executive Committee (NEC) for decision. Leeds University UCU sent five branch delegates to Congress: Arunima Bhattacharya; Dima Chami, Laura Loyola, Megan Povey and Chloe Wallace. In addition, Lesley McGorrigan attended as delegate from the Yorkshire and Humberside Regional Committee, and Vicky …continue reading
The first anti-casualisation meeting with the university HR team took place yesterday. Our concerns were listened to and we provided information/clarification on questions arising from the official claim we had submitted earlier this year. You can read the claim here: leedsucu.org.uk/ucu-anti-casualisation-claim-submitted-to-university-of-leeds The university has agreed to identify parameters they think they can align with to publish a joint statement on casualisation. We anticipate formal time-limited negotiations to begin shortly but further steps in this regard require active engagement from our casualised members. We are putting together a survey to find out the details and extent of the casualisation problem at Leeds and also planning towards a meeting of all casualised staff that will soon be announced. …continue reading
In the past few days, a storm of academic Twitter anger was aimed at University of Leeds over a job advertisement for a research assistant. The job description, apparently aimed at postgraduate students ‘interested in developing [their] professional academic skills’, read primarily like a personal administrative assistant with ‘occasional bits of supplementary research.’ What shocked many was the implication that the employee would need to be on campus, in effect ‘on call’, more often than not even when not working. As soon as we were made aware of the ad we contacted University of Leeds Human Resources, who immediately withdrew the vacancy. The university says this was a mistake in the vacancy advertising process, which they will now urgently review and improve. That this job ad saw the light of day is also a symptom of a culture of rampant casualisation in the university sector. Staff working in all roles and at all levels of the university deserve a culture that emphasises dignity and secure work for all. Insecure jobs go hand-in-hand with ludicrously high workloads, fear of being able to take annual leave or be off sick, and, in extremes, bullying. We are standing up for secure jobs and …continue reading