The University of Liverpool, in an article in the Echo, has admitted that 536 staff on hourly and fixed term contracts will lose their jobs this summer, including lecturers, researchers, administrators, and clerical and technical staff. Our UCU branch, in conjunction with Unite and Unison campus unions, has launched a campaign to Defend All Jobs.
Although staff on precarious contracts will be the first to suffer, staff on permanent contracts are under threat too. The university, despite evidence that it will be financially stable for the next academic year, is using the pandemic as an excuse to slash the wage bill. It has asked permanent staff to take a pay cut, take unpaid leave, or take voluntary severance (ie to make themselves redundant). If staff don’t make enough sacrifices, the university is prepared to use compulsory redundancies to cut the cost of wages, which means that no job is safe, and all staff should consider themselves precarious now.
That is why all staff, whether in precarious or permanent posts, whether in academic, clerical or technical roles, and in every faculty, must stand together to resist the mass redundancy of precarious staff this summer, and the cuts to permanent staff this autumn.
The campaign includes lobbying local MPs, Tweeting out news about the redundancies, sharing our campaign video, holding mass online meetings (see below), and socially distant protests on campus, as well as asking senior academics to support their colleagues about to be made redundant – please sign the open letter here. We have also linked up with anti-casualisation activists at other institutions in Liverpool and the North West, and fully support the call for this to become a nation-wide campaign involving all higher and further education institutions.
Meetings for activists
There will be a meeting for anti-casualisation activists at north west institutions at 5pm this Thursday 2nd July. The meeting will be on Zoom and you can attend by clicking this link.
Following on from the Day of Action and the two Solidarity Rallies, to which over 1300 UCU members attended, there is a national meeting for activists at 10am this Saturday 4th July. This meeting has a practical focus to help us build resistance to the mass redundancies of precarious staff, and the wider attacks on jobs and pay at FE and HE institutions around the country. UCU President Vicky Blake has agreed to introduce the event, and there will be breakout sessions to discuss issues such as how best to respond to redundancy threats, resisting casualisation, winning an industrial action ballot in lockdown, building local campaigns and solidarity, and organising for strike action. To register for the activists’ meeting, please click this link.
UCU Solidarity Rallies
Two mass solidarity rallies have now taken place, on 16th and 25th June. They were called by UCU members at the University of Liverpool, Imperial College London, SOAS, and the University of Roehampton, and over 1300 members from HE and FE institutions across the country participated in them, along with UCU General Secretary, Jo Grady, and UCU President, Vicky Blake.
A statement was presented at the second rally, and 98% of participants voted to support it. We would encourage everyone to sign the statement, and encourage their colleagues to do so, here. The statement is as follows
We call on the UCU to organise an emergency online all-members meeting immediately. Further to our union’s new Fund The Future campaign, this meeting will discuss, agree and build united resistance against all job losses and pay cuts in further, adult and higher education. This is even more urgent given that these cuts are disproportionately impacting on women and BAME staff, particularly those on precarious contracts.
The battle over jobs is spreading across the country, with a different FE college or HE institution every day announcing cuts. The national activists’ meeting this Saturday will focus on how we respond as a union.
Goldsmiths precarious members boycott
Hourly paid and fixed term teaching staff at Goldsmiths, University of London, are taking action to resist unfair and unreasonable cuts to almost 500 staff on temporary contracts, including withholding unpaid labour and marking results. Our union branch has sent them a message of solidarity. One of the activists at Goldsmiths recently wrote to the Guardian about the experience of working on precarious contracts, and their story will be horribly familiar to many of us. The article is here. To read about their campaign, and offer your own message of support, visit their webpage. We invited a speaker from Goldsmiths to speak at our AGM on 18th June, and passed a motion supporting their action, with a donation to their campaign fund
A national campaign to defend precarious members
UCU members at SOAS have written an open letter to the general secretary, Jo Grady, asking that a national campaign is launched over precarious job cuts this summer. Amongst other things, they say:
We call upon you as our General Secretary to mobilise the union in support of UCU members at SOAS and, more generally, to lead a national campaign to break with the disastrous policies that have so undermined and exposed HE as a public service. It is essential, in the time of crisis, that we do not allow the terms and working conditions of our members to deteriorate further, and hundreds of members to lose their jobs.
There is also an open letter from CoronaContracts which calls on the general secretary to co-ordinate a national response to the shocking job losses taking place across the country. We call on all members to sign the open letter here, and share it widely with permanent and precarious colleagues.
Still precarious after FOUR years?
If you still have a temporary contract but have worked for the university for four years or more, guidance about getting the university to confirm that you are now permanent can be found here.
If you are not already a member of UCU, you can join us here. Staff on lower salaries / fractional contracts pay lower fees.
If you would like to get in involved with the branch campaign, join the Precarious Staff Working Group, or just talk to the Anti-Casualisation Officer, please email Peta.
If you want to contact the branch, you can do so here.
Please share our campaign leaflets and video widely, with Twitter, facebook, Instagram, Tiktok, or any other way you can think of!