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