Call to Action Against Casualisation
This statement has been written by a group of staff on casualised contracts. We have posted it on their behalf as they wished to remain anonymous due to the precarious nature of their current employment.
FAO Permanent Staff:
CALL TO ACTION AGAINST CASUALISATION
We write to you with urgency, as precarious employees at the University of Brighton, organising with Brighton Education Workers. As some of you may already know, the university’s inadequate response to the ongoing disruption caused by Covid-19 has placed us in jeopardy. Senior management have refused to draw on the government’s furloughing scheme to ensure that we have a secure income for the summer months; they have also refused to renew our contracts for the forthcoming academic year, insisting that contractual issues be dealt with on a ‘case-by-case’ basis. In April, we collectively submitted a grievance to the university on the basis that failure to renew our contracts constitutes wilful negligence of its duty of care to its employees in a time of crisis. This was dismissed out of hand.
What this is likely to mean in actuality is that the university will ignore the issue for as long as possible whilst quietly sacking some of its most vulnerable workers in the middle of an unprecedented economic and social crisis. Indeed, several temporary teaching contracts have already ended without any recognition on the part of the university that it will be almost impossible for colleagues to find new jobs under the current circumstances. The disruption this will cause to our careers and lives cannot be overstated. The colleagues most affected by these measures are already the most vulnerable among us: we have rent and bills we can barely afford, with limited to no savings, not to mention the disproportionate overrepresentation of women and LGBT people in the academic precariat. To reiterate, our work for the university should not be understood as a work experience opportunity that our employers graciously provide, but rather is work upon which we rely to survive.
This signals just the beginning of a further programme of redundancies and cuts that will endanger your own careers, expand your workloads enormously, and compromise the capacity of the university to function. Please do not be mistaken: given the implications for all of us, not only does silence equal complicity in our precarity, but it will ultimately affect you too.
We ask you to act now, in solidarity but also for yourselves. These are some concrete action points that we call on our permanent colleagues to undertake:
- Email your line manager directly, refusing to absorb the extra workload that will result from casualised staff being laid off.
- Threaten to withdraw the goodwill that has led much of the workforce to perform uncontracted work from home during the lockdown.
- Sign the national #CoronaContract pledge to defend casualised staff in UK universities:
- Change your email signature to the following:
I support the national #CoronaContract campaign, and the demands of precarious staff at Brighton, for 2 years secure employment for all casualised university and college workers, endorsed by UCU’s HEC (coronacontract.org). Permanent members of staff should not be asked to cover work previously assigned to casualised colleagues who have been laid off during this crisis.