Strike action in higher education

HE casualisation - using our new resources to develop a claim

14 June 2018 | last updated: 12 July 2018

UCU recently circulated its new HE campaign pack to help branches develop local claims on casualisation and to build structured supporting campaign plans to put pressure on universities to negotiate.

We've also just published the latest update to our national data on casualisation, giving you the latest summary data for each institution in the sector and a ranking based on its level of insecure employment. This data is based on the information submitted to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) and as such it won't be an entirely accurate picture but it's a good and revealing starting point. Perhaps the most useful part of this data is the individual institutional 'look-up' table which provides a detailed breakdown of the numbers of staff on fixed-term of atypical contracts at different contract levels. This gives branch activists and officers a way to look at the concentrations of fixed-term and atypical staff at the bottom of the career path and can be very helpful in the formulation of local claims.

The advantage of a formal claim (as opposed to a call for 'talks') is that it calls for precise action on a series of headings identified by the branch which establishes the expectation that this will be conducted through negotiations within a specific timeframe. This helps prevent the branch's work being diverted into consultation or endless working groups and it allows branches to constantly review progress and think about whether they need to apply leverage on the negotiations.

Several branches have already picked up the HE campaign pack and started the process of tabling claims and developing campaign plans. It's a good idea to get this process started now to start building pressure and putting plans in place so that when the new term starts, branches are in a position to know their management's initial response by the time the students return in September.

A key part of the campaign pack is the offer to run strategy days at which branch officers and anti-casualisation officers can develop the basis of a claim and campaign plan. If your branch would like one of these, contact Jane Thompson.

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