This has been passed (with amendments) by Birmingham UCU, QMUL UCU, Brunel UCU, Kingston University UCU, London Met UCU, Manchester University UCU, King’s College London UCU, LJMU UCU, RCA UCU, SOAS UCU, Exeter UCU, Durham UCU, Birkbeck UCU, Bath UCU, Strathclyde UCU

(please get in touch if your branch has passed this or other robust motions)

Please use and adapt our model motion for your local UCU branch or committee:

Casualised workers make up approximately 70% of researchers nationally in HE, and between 25-30% of the teaching staff in many universities. Like everybody, casualised university workers are struggling with the global crisis brought on by COVID-19, and are particularly likely to see our contracts terminate (while our Vice Chancellors are continuing to pay themselves salaries of £253,000 on average — many much more — from taxpayer money). There is no indication that this pandemic will be over any time soon, and some estimates suggest it could affect us up to 18 months or longer, which will take us through the next academic year at least. This does not even reflect longer-term economic impacts beyond the immediate tragedy of the pandemic itself. While this crisis continues, casualised staff members across the university — often the lowest paid on campus — must not be forgotten, and should receive guaranteed income along with permanent staff. 

This branch recognises: 

  • that universities have already agreed to address casualisation due to the inordinate amount of suffering it causes, which will only be intensified by COVID-19
  • that casualised staff whose contracts are ending will find it almost impossible to secure employment during a global pandemic, especially when university hiring is expected to freeze
  • that casually employed university workers (including hourly staff, fixed-term staff, and PhD students/GTAs) perform crucial, often poorly compensated, work, and deserve the same security as permanent colleagues, including contract renewals, extensions, or continued pay for the duration of the crisis
  • that departments are going to need increased capacity as a result of the crisis, given potential illness of colleagues and the switch to remote working, making the work done by casualised staff even more essential

This branch therefore demands an immediate contractual guarantee of two years of work at or above the current level of remuneration, for all casualised university staff.

This branch resolves to:

  • Call on members to support the @CoronaContracts campaign and to sign the national open letter on casual contracts:
  • Call on our University to support the principle of guaranteed employment for two years for all casualised staff and, if necessary, to seek to apply the government’s job retention scheme to all eligible precarious staff, which must be topped up by our University to cover 100% of wages
  • Call on our University to enter into full and open consultation on any proposed redundancies, including redeploying staff instead of terminating them, and to confirm that staff on fixed term contracts will not be discriminated against or automatically dismissed
  • Call for protections for postgraduate students including extensions of scholarships, protections around access to paid work, suspension of fees for self-funded students and students in their fourth year of study, and to suspend deadlines and annual reviews