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Taking action in higher education

Anti-casualisation day of action: 3 December 2008

29 October 2008 | last updated: 12 July 2018

Colleges and universities across the UK held a day of action on 3 December as part of UCU's campaign to end the abuse of casual contracts.

These are some of the reports we've received.

Bradford College

Bradford College launched a new campaign on 3 December after a further delay in the introduction of a new part-time contract by management. A number of members directly affected by the absence of an agreed part-time contract were identified through the day, though we think there are many more. Several new members were recruited on the day, with further pledges to join. The local branches are now planning to build a workplace map of all the part-time staff. Further events are also being considered.

Martyn Moss, UCU regional official (Yorkshire & Humberside)

Cardiff University

On the 'Stamp Out Casual Contracts' Day of Action on 3 December, Cardiff UCU ran a stall at Cardiff University's Centre for Lifelong Learning, where hundreds of tutors are on fixed-term hourly-paid contracts. We handed out information and UCU literature - together with free mince pies! - to the many visitors to the stall. The day was a great success and raised everyone's awareness of the campaign's issues and of the rights casualised staff should expect.

Valerie Hannagan Lewis, Cardiff University UCU

City and Islington College

Successful day of action against casualisation at City and Islington College: Demonstrations, leafleting and recruitment stalls were all part of the action at City and Islington College. At Camden Road branch academic and support staff held a protest, and a rally, on the steps of the Camden Road site. An hourly paid lecturer told the crowd that hourly paid staff were working alongside 'full-time' staff doing the same work, and hours, but receiving just over half the salary.

At Marlborough House site several people joined UCU at the union campaign stall. Staff rooms were leafleted at the CASS site the Angel.

Andy Strouthous, Camden Rd Branch secretary

City UCU actions

In the run-up to the day of action, City University UCU held an open meeting for VLs on 25 November, addressed by Greg Barnett on local negotiations. On 2 December there was an evening stall with questionnaire and info to contact evening class VLs. On 3 December there was a lunch time stall with questionnaire and info as well as another evening stall.

College of North East London

30 hourly paid members of staff came to our college meeting to discuss the next stage in our action against the college management. We drafted a petition for all staff to sign, and identified some new issues that had arisen since our last meeting. We submitted our collective grievance to the employment tribunal, to coincide with anti-casualisation day, this complaint had been signed by 17 hourly paid lecturers.

Benjamin Jones, UCU branch casework office

Ealing Hammersmith & West London College

Successful day at the Barons Court branch of Ealing Hammersmith & West London College. A stall in the staff common room. Leaflets handed out, new members recruited and another successful demonstration of what UCU is all about.

Tim Dalrymple

University of East Anglia

UEA UCU are planning an anti-casualisation day of action on 28 January, including a lunchtime rally.

Kings College London

King's College London held a lunchtime stall as part of their fixed-term researchers' pilot project. Several members were assigned buildings to find researchers' contact details to let them know about the stall and for future uses such as identifying strengths and weaknesses in membership, and for recruitment mailings.


University of Glasgow

Glasgow UCU held a successful stall, several members took away model letters as well as some of the campaign materials.  Some PIs expressed support for the campaign and there was a general feeling that it went well. The following day the branch held a general meeting when members were given the chance to raise their own issues either on their experiences in particular or the campaign in general

Dave Anderson, Glasgow UCU

University of Kent and Canterbury Christ Church University

Kent UCU organised a stall for the launch of the anti-casualisation campaign in the main dining hall of the campus on Wednesday 3 December. Both full time staff and sessional teachers participated to the event which attracted many students at undergraduate and postgraduate level (raising awareness of the latter about their future work conditions if they were to decide to teach next year), research and teaching staff. Some were already union members, and others expressed an interest in joining. The event was generally helpful in raising the profile of the union and we are hoping to organise another similar event later in 2009.

Alex Christoyannopoulos, Kent UCU

University of Leeds

University of Leeds UCU organised a meeting for researchers to discuss their issues.

University of Leicester

University of Leicester UCU are taking the wider Stamp Out Casual Contracts campaign locally by organising a surgery for fixed-term staff with a solicitor from Thompsons on 21 January.

Lewisham College

Lewisham College UCU were handing out the 'Know Your Rights' postcards as staff arrived at work.

University of Liverpool

Liverpool had a very successful Anti-Casualisation Day of Action. We ran two stalls - one in the north and one in the south of the campus; one indoors and one outdoors. We distributed the UCU anti-casualisation literature, our own newsletter and poster against casualisation, and membership application forms. We were also able to offer our members on casualised contracts access to a local solicitor from Thompsons Solicitors. The four-hour surgery meant that we didn't have to turn anyone away. All agreed that this had been extremely worthwhile. The majority of members who staffed the stalls and hosted the surgery are on permanent contracts.

Pam Clarke, Liverpool UCU

University of Manchester

University of Manchester UCU held an open meeting addressed by Andy Ball (of Ball V Aberdeen case) at which plenty of questions were raised. They also held a recruitment stall with hot drinks and mince pies. Using an attendance sheet, the branch identified ten new activists to support their researchers' campaign that is linked to local negotiations. Several application forms were taken away, with two joining on the day. In the week before, members had leafleted and knocked on researchers' doors to recruit and get support for their campaign.

University of Newcastle

We had a stall from 11.30 - 3pm outside the busy Courtyard café - the stall generated a lot of interest and there was a healthy distribution of not only information but membership forms - we tried hard to raise the awareness of the issues with opened contracts. There were some quite scary figures with a headline of c40% of teaching, academic, research, and academic related staff being on casual contracts at Newcastle [although as with all stats it depends who you count a] as casual and b] staff - we took the broadest view and included clinical consultants and post grads and various others from the lists we get from the university].

Jane Blakeman, Newcastle UCU

University of Sheffield

University of Sheffield UCU held a lunchtime stall that attracted plenty of interest.  Application forms were taken and members who dropped by took away campaign material.  Branch members on the stall were even photographed and interviewed for the local students' newspaper.

Day of action - 3 Dec 08: Sheffield HallamSheffield Hallam UCU secretary Mike Henderson talking to a potential member at an anti-casualisation stall Sheffield Hallam University

Sheffield Hallam UCU ran a very successful lunchtime stall in a busy area by a university café. As the branch is one of the researcher pilot projects, the focus was on researchers. Several members of staff were keen to join and contact details were taken for all those who attended the stall so that they could be followed up regarding joining and/or supporting our campaign.  Branch officers were very pleased with what was achieved.

University of Strathclyde

Strathclyde UCU held an open meeting to discuss issues affecting FTHP. A good discussion was held that really involved the people who attended. So overall it was a worthwhile exercise and I think those that showed up would have a better understanding of how UCU is working on their behalf.

David McKie, Strathclyde UCU

University of Sussex

Over 300 staff and students attended a rally in Library Square today to celebrate the fantastic work carried out by associate tutors at Sussex, and to support their campaign for fair and equitable pay and conditions of employment. Associate tutors were joined by branch president Paul Cecil, vice president Dr Hazel Cox, USSU President Laura Tazzioli, and national UCU president, Sasha Callaghan, in making plain to the university management the strength of feeling felt right across the campus in support of dedicated and professional colleagues, the majority of whom are being paid at grade 5 on the national scale for teaching and lecturing. See also:

Paul Cecil, president