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 dignity at work. We enter formal negotiations with University of Leeds on our anti-casualisation claim on 26 March.