Casualisation has been on the increase in Higher Education and at Leeds for over a decade. UCU University of Leeds branch submitted an anti-casualisation claim to the university in January 2019.
In the last year, the industrial action taken as part of our dispute in 2021-22 and, in particular, the marking and assessment boycott, have pushed the university to act. The university’s commitment to reducing the number of fixed term contracts is expressed through the Fairer Future For All initiative. Specifically, the university has committed to transfer staff from fixed term contracts to permanent contracts if they have over two years of service (as of 31 July 2022). The UCU has noted that the pledge will bring the university in line with the law and its own policy, yet it falls far short of addressing casualisation at Leeds in a satisfactory way.
The university has started by addressing the contracts of university staff who have been on fixed term contract for more than 10 years. In the second stage, staff on fixed term contracts with two years of service or more will be contacted for potential transition to an open-ended contract. The UCU is monitoring the process and is fighting to avoid some staff being simply transferred to open-ended fixed funding contracts, which do not offer employment security and differ from fixed term contracts mostly in terminology under current university policy. The UCU will be in negotiations during the next few months and will be pressing for the end of the use of open-ended fixed funding contracts and that the maximum number of staff are moved swiftly onto permanent contracts.
UCU University of Leeds branch is involved in consultation and negotiation with the university to tackle casualisation in several key areas:
- By monitoring the process of contract change and providing casework for casualised staff being moved onto ongoing contracts to ensure that the process is transparent and fair;
- By having anti-casualisation working group meetings and communication with HR;
- By ongoing consultation and negotiation with the university to make sure that Fairer Future for All does not exclude casualised staff on research contracts;
- By contributing to the development of new policies on redundancy and redeployment through a process that will ultimately be negotiated between the university and the trade unions. In particular, UCU University of Leeds branch is contributing to developing a new interface and process for redeployment, which will simplify the redeployment procedure for redeployees and redistribute the burden of responsibility;
- By building solidarity and addressing workplace and employment issues for all casualised staff through the anti-casualisation working group, anti-casualisation reps in schools, and services across the university.
Are you on a casualised contract?
Get involved: If you are interested in joining the anti-casualisation working group, please get in touch with UCU University of Leeds branch anti-casualisation officers, Marina Baldissera Pacchetti (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Draško Kašćelan (email@example.com).
In case you have been on a fixed term contract for more than two years as of 31 July 2022 and your contract is ending soon, please get in touch with UCU University of Leeds branch (firstname.lastname@example.org) who can assign you a caseworker to help in your conversations with the HR about possible transition to an open ended contract.
UCU rising: vote in the ongoing UCU ballot!
Nationally, tackling casualisation is a central priority in the UCU rising campaign. As you can read in UCU’s report, ‘Precarious work in higher education’, around one-third of all academic staff in the UK are employed on fixed-term contracts; this figure rises to almost half for teaching-only academics (44%) and over two-thirds (68%) for research-only staff. These national figures stress the importance that the University of Leeds Fairer Future For All initiative is implemented for all casualised staff at the university, researchers included. Pay, equality, workload and casualisation are all intimately linked to one another, and we encourage you to engage with the campaign and VOTE #YES in the ongoing ballot to keep our employers accountable and ultimately win our disputes.
This page was last updated on 16 November 2022