In preparation for the meeting, it would be great if TAs could hold smaller meetings in their departments if possible, to look at any internal discrepancies. It would also be useful if i could get some sample contracts from different departments in advance, both this year’s and last year‘s so we can go through them and estimate losses and gains in advance of the meeting. Please send these to firstname.lastname@example.org. If people are uncomfortable sending them through with their names, we are happy to look at anonymised contracts. We will be listing complaints to bring to HR via UCU. Further to this,and whilst we hope that this will be an opportunity to assess the contracts themselves, we really hope to have the time to discuss possible organising strategies, and a coherent plan for these.
Please circulate this information within your individual departments to TAs who might not yet be on the Qmac or QMUCU list.
Thursday 26 was the second of UCU’s two day strike, and was the day chosen to focus on fighting casualisation in the sector. Following a call from FACE, we decided to take a stand for a fairer public university, linking casualisation to the gender and racial pay gap. We asked casualised staff, permanent staff and students to express what casualisation meant to them. Here are some of the answers we got:
‘if our fees have gone up why not your wages’
‘casualisation harms education, students and teachers’
‘casualisation lowers your self esteem due to injustice and disrespect’
‘casualisation is another name for exploitation’
‘casualisation disadvantages women, people of colour and working class people’
‘Casualisation means not being able to pay my rent and do my job well’
‘casualisation means stress, anxiety and poverty’
‘casualisation damages learning, careers, lives…’
‘I’m tired of TA/VL’s passion for teaching being exploited, not recognised in our pay’
Copied below is FACE’s original call out to take a stand against casualisation as a means of fighting inequality in Higher Education. If you want to continue supporting the ongoing struggle against casualisation in HE, please tweet @FACEanticas @QmacQm and @UCU what casualisation means to you and/or why we should fight it.
We are taking a stand for an equal & inclusive public university
We are striking to resist the casualisation and scandalous gender and racial pay gap in higher education, as well as the derisory pay offer offered by UCEA today, that is significantly less than inflation. Although presented as separate issues, they are intimately linked and have wide-spread implications for students as well as staff.
What is casualisation?
Recent research by UCU estimated that 48.7% of staff across UK higher education are employed on some form of casual contract. This means almost half of the people who make our universities run lack job security. What does this mean? Casualisation describes the growing trend employers hiring employees on insecure and atypical contracts – hourly paid, fixed term, and fractional. Casualised staff are often poorly paid, lack holiday and sick pay, don’t receive a salary over the summer months, and are often not paid for time spent preparing lectures and tutorials, meeting and emailing with students, and marking.
What has this got to do with equality?
We are striking to close the gender pay gap, and FACE thinks UCU should explicitly tackle the racial pay gap too. Whilst casualisation is a scandal across the board, it disproportionately affects women and people of colour. In 2016, the gender pay gap in higher education was 12.6%.Two further TUC reports also showed that women and people of colour were also disproportionately employed on casual contracts. This has created issues around access to maternity, care, and sick leave, the ability to secure a tenancy or mortgage, and compounds issues around promotion and career progression for women.
What does this mean for students and staff?
Casualisation is a key factor that keeps women and people of colour out of academia. At present, there are currently only 17 black female professors in UK higher education. This impacts not only the diversity of staff as such, but also the diversity of education itself. At a time where students are challenging the whiteness of the curriculum and their teachers and fighting back against sexual harassment on campuses, the continual exploitation of people of colour and women by employers send suggests that the University is not listening. A fair pay deal will benefit staff across HE institutions, but the fight against casualisation and unequal pay is a fight for an inclusive and just university for everyone.
If we want a better and fairer university, we must eradicate casual contracts and persist in guaranteeing accessibility to equal pay and opportunities for all.
Dear Queen Mary Students
The University College Union (UCU) has called a national strike for 25-26 May, Wednesday and Thursday this week. Many academics and support staff will be cancelling all teaching, administration and office hours on both days. This is a way to put pressure on universities to meet our demands.
Why is the strike happening?
Ultimately the strike is about the future of higher education across the country. In particular, lecturers are making three key demands.
- end the shocking gender pay gap in the profession. Women working as academics earn much less than their male counterparts. Nationally in Higher Education, the pay gap is 12.6% More details here.
- greatly reduce the proportion of staff on insecure contracts like fixed-term posts and zero hours contracts. 75,000 members of university staff nationally are on these sorts of contracts. At QM, 51% of overall staff are on such contracts. It’s very difficult to plan and to live a stable life and perhaps start a family when you have no job security!
- a pay raise of 5%, to begin to make up for the erosion of our pay by inflation. Academics’ pay has fallen by 14.5% in real terms since 2009. Imagine what you’d do with a 14.5% cut in your loan or your own wages. Imagine what friends or family who are working would say to a 14.5% cut. We’re not asking for a real terms raise, just one that keeps pace with the rising cost of living. The universities have offered us just 1.1%!
Doesn’t a strike just hurt the students?
It is not the intention of your lecturers for their industrial action to impact adversely on their students, and we do all we can to ensure this doesn’t happen. Just like the junior doctors, sometimes it is necessary to withdraw our labour temporarily to demonstrate to our employers what an important job we do all day every day. The aim of the strike is to ensure better quality education for all involved, in a university that actually puts gender equality into practice, so that students can be well taught by lecturers who are given adequate time to prepare for classes and receive a fair wage in return.
Lecturers’ working conditions are students’ learning conditions!
It’s austerity, everyone’s taking a pay cut
Except they aren’t. At QM, there are 116 staff earning over £100,000. While a small number of these may be big shot professors in certain areas like medical or scientific research, the vast majority are not academics. The average salary of university Vice-Chancellors is now more than a quarter of a million pounds. Simon Gaskell’s salary was revealed to be £284, 000 earlier this year. There is plenty of money on universities’ balance sheets, including Queen Mary’s. They’re just not spending it on academic and support staff!
What students can do
You can sign this petition, organised by a group of students nationally https://www.change.org/p/petition-support-fair-pay-for-our-university-staff
On Wednesday and Thursday the UCU will be asking everybody not to cross the picket line. A picket line is a symbolic barrier. When a picket line is in place your lecturers (who are on strike) ask you not to make use of university buildings or services. Whether or not to cross a picket line is entirely your decision. We ask you to make sure, however, that it is an informed decision.
On strikes in previous years, many students came themselves to the picket line as supporters, to show their solidarity with the staff and discuss our mutual goal of securing quality and freely accessible education for all, provided by well-paid and valued staff.
(thank you to collagues from UCL and Warwick for the help on this letter)
One of the reasons we fight is because we care about the quality of our teaching . QM HR continually devalues us through not paying us enough or treating us properly. Lying about Hourly Paid representation and refusing us a minimum framework is just the latest instance of QM’s total lack of regard for hourly paid teaching staff. If you are a student and would like to support us because you want those who teach you to be treated fairly, there are some things you can do. You could download the image below, print it and take a picture of yourself with it, tweeting it @QMUL and @QmacQm. Or you could just tweet the image by itself. You can also talk to your friends and spread the word, we need as much support from students as possible! We value our teaching and solidarity with students means a lot to us.
Queen Mary is one of the worst institutions in the country for its reliance on casualised teaching staff. 66.1% of teaching at the university is delivered by staff on precarious contracts. This is precisely what QMAC have been campaigning against over the last two years.
Queen Mary university has finally decided to review some hourly paid teaching staff’s pay and conditions, and accepted the need to integrate them into the pay spine — something that should have happened 8 years ago.
Whilst QMAC welcomes the decision to treat us like any other employees of the university, there are some worrying developments in the manner in which HR are proposing to implement these changes. Previously TA pay was paid on a 2.5 multiplier — meaning that the pay for each hour of teaching was multiplied by 2.5 in order to accommodate preparation and marking. The university is now proposing to leave the individual Teaching and Learning Committees of each Department to decide how to weight the different aspects of TA and Associate Lecturer pay (preparation, marking, teaching, administration and training).
They are proposing to do so with no minimum framework in place to implement across all departments. They are also not requiring individual departments to consult with hourly-paid Teaching Associates and Visiting Lecturers during this process, or create representative positions that could help shape the way departments calculate how much work goes into each task. This is unacceptable.
A lack of minimum framework with no consultation of hourly paid staff makes departments entirely unaccountable and leaves the system open for abuse. With the reluctance we have seen in particular schools to implement hourly-paid representatives this bodes badly for workers. It is also a hypocritical move by the university, who originally delayed our integration onto the pay spine in 2015 after claiming they intended to first harmonise working conditions across departments. Whilst different fields do demand different approaches to teaching, the lack of a minimum framework is a very worrying development.
Responding to concerns about the lack of minimum framework, Alastair Kelly, Deputy Director of HR, responded that ‘many Teaching and Learning Committees have hourly-paid representation’. We already know this is not the case, but as some hourly paid staff queried this with Teaching and Learning Committees, they were informed that new contracts were the responsibility of HR. This at shows, at best, the absolute lack of oversight by HR regarding the implementation of their own proposals.
Queen Mary is also leaving out an entire category of Hourly Paid teaching staff: Demonstrators. Demonstrators also need a pay rise, and deserve proper contracts rather than the current informal agreements, which are ripe for exploitation. Demonstrators who responded to QMAC’s survey last year often reported hourly pay well below the minimum wage in real terms.
In light of this, and of our ongoing demand for FAIR PAY FOR ALL HOURS WORKED and EQUAL TERMS, we reject Queen Mary’s proposal as it stands, and instead ask for:
- A COMMITMENT THAT EACH HOURLY-PAID TEACHING CONTRACT ISSUED BY QUEEN MARY FOR THE UPCOMING 16/17 ACADEMIC YEAR BE BASED ON A MINIMUM FRAMEWORK
- THAT AN HOURLY-PAID REPRESENTATIVE SIT ON EACH TEACHING AND LEARNING COMMITTEE OR BE CONSULTED BY THEIR DEPARTEMENT BEFORE ANY DECSION IS MADE REGARDING THE ALLOCATION OF RESAONABLE HOURS FOR EACH ACTIVITY UNDERTAKEN FOR GOOD QUALITY TEACHING
- THAT DEMONSTRATORS BE INTEGRATED IMMEDIATELY INTO THE PAY SPINE, AND A COMMITMENT THAT THEIR TERMS AND CONDITIONS BE REVIEWED SO THEY RECEIVE PROPER CONTRACTS
If you are a student or staff at QMUL and think this is unfair, you can let QMUL know through sharing this post and letting your feelings known on social media
We’ve been plotting to start the year in style, as negotiations may go underway pretty soon on our pay and conditions. All the quotes on the posters are from our TA survey from last year, expressing how most of us feel in precarious academic work.
ALL WE WANT FOR 2016 is:
FAIR PAY FOR ALL HOURS WORKED
BETTER JOB SECURITY
MORE TRANSPARENT CONTRACTS
BETTER PAY AND EQUAL TERMS
And just like the posters, QMAC is not going away.
Happy New Year!