Duncan Moore, Plymouth Socialist Party and UCU member (personal capacity)
UCU activists in the Open University branch have secured permanent contracts for 4800 teaching staff, the biggest decasualisation victory ever to take place in higher education.
These staff will now benefit from enhanced job security, a pay uplift of between 10-15%, additional annual leave, and staff development allowances.
Casualisation is now rife across the tertiary education sector, with 46% of universities and 60% of colleges using zero hours contracts to deliver teaching, and 68% of research staff on short term contracts, with many more reliant on short-term funding for their projects.
University bosses use fixed term contracts to stretch their staff to breaking point, exploiting the competition for the preciously small number of permanent positions by piling on extra teaching and marking responsibilities. The result is a toxic environment for staff, with one in five working up to 16 hours a week over their contracted hours, and most early-career academics having to reapply for their jobs and relocate to other institutions year after year. Little wonder that over half report signs of depression, a report by Education Support found last year.
This win for OU tutors comes after years of hard negotiations and struggle with the university bosses, with the branch membership growing in size and militancy since the strikes against regional centre closures in 2016.
Branches across the country can take confidence from this victory to push for the highest possible turnout in the national ballot over pay and conditions, launched today (10/08/2022).
Socialist Students groups will be organising campus meetings next term in solidarity with the UCU, as the union prepares to ballot 80,000 workers at 149 universities next month ahead of potential national strike action in November.
Get in touch to find out how you can organise with Socialist Students to support your local UCU branch in their fight against low wages, overwork, casualisation and discriminatory pay. Join us in the united student-worker fightback against the cost of living crisis and capitalism!
- No to all job cuts and course closures on campuses. Students should link up with campus trade unions to fight all cuts.
- Fight for free education – scrap tuition fees, cancel all student debt and introduce living grants for students. Make the 1% pay.
- Build a national student movement – democratic and active – linked up with the campus trade unions and wider trade union movement.
- Fight for a socialist alternative to capitalist chaos.