Job insecurity at the University at ‘record levels’ according to UCU report

By Luke Chafer

The UCU annual casualisation report found that 1,149 members of staff are at risk in the next five months.

Ahead of the ballot on University College Union (UCU) strike action, the Glasgow branch of the Union produced their annual report on casualisation at the University. The report found record levels of job insecurity at the University with 1,149 staff at risk of redundancy between October 2021 and March 2022, an increase of 131% from the same period last year. This also represents a rise of 400 people at risk of redundancy since data was first collected. 

There was found to be a particularly high level of insecurity for technical, research and teaching staff. Out of 1,149 at risk of redundancy, over 500 are technical staff and 395 are on research contracts. The report does highlight that the proportion of staff who are at risk of redundancy who are subsequently made redundant has been low in recent years, ranging from 9% in January – June 2021 to 21% in April – September 2020. 

The Glasgow Guardian spoke to a former lecturer who outlined his struggle with casualisation at the University:  “I think it’s important for students to realise that many of their teaching staff, across the University and at different levels are employed on precarious contracts [and] overworked. Glasgow University is not particularly special in this regard but are in my experience very slow to act and support their staff.” The lecturer went on to say: “Without job security, decent pay packages, and a work-life balance, the system quickly becomes exploitative and unsustainable. That’s what I experienced at various times throughout my early career lecturer positions at Glasgow University.”

Another member of staff told The Glasgow Guardian: “Over the years I have seen a dramatic increase in the use of casual contracts for staff. In particular, I have seen a colleague bounce from a six-month contract to a six-month contract. I have seen them get more and more exhausted and stressed when it approaches the end of the contract and they have to fight to maintain their position time and again.”

Speaking to The Glasgow Guardian, Pam Duncan-Glancy, MSP for the Glasgow region, said: “The record levels of job insecurity at the University of Glasgow are unacceptable, and to learn that in the next 6 months over 1,000 staff could face redundancy is even more worrying. I urge the University of Glasgow to end job insecurity, and in particular to address the overrepresentation of BAME staff in less secure contracts.”

The report did note that there had been some areas of improvement over the year-long consultation with University management. In relation to Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTA’s), it was agreed that longer contracts were to be better enforced and that working groups will monitor pay and conditions, however, a mechanism to monitor actual hours worked was rejected. It was also agreed that an equality impact assessment would be undertaken and that a trial of permanent pooled research associates would be undertaken.  
The Glasgow Guardian asked Rector Lady Rita Rae for a comment on the ongoing situation and report, but she declined.


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