Four Fights: Casualisation

What is this dispute about?

Casualisation in the sector has risen sharply in recent years. This is unacceptable. UCU are asking for an end to zero hours contracts, proper contracts for Graduate Teaching Assistants, and a meaningful agreement to move towards more open-ended contracts.

  • 46% of those who teach in universities are employed on zero-hours contracts. This means that almost half of those delivering teaching in UK universities do not have guaranteed working hours or income (UCU, 2019).
  • 71% of casualised teachers said they didn’t have time to give students feedback they deserved (also didn’t have time for marking, scholarship or preparation for classes) (UCU, 2019).

What does this mean for our local members?

  • 32% of all staff employed at The University of Liverpool are on casualised (fixed-term) contracts (data from May 2022).
  • 52% percent of all academic teaching-only contracts at The University of Liverpool are fixed term (data from May 2022).
  • The University also continues to use zero hours contracts: there are currently 397 fixed term zero hours contracts at the University and 413 permanent zero hours contracts (data from May 2022).
  • On average 45% of work done by hourly paid and part-time teachers is unpaid (data from June 2019).
  • Casualisation disproportionally affects our women and BAME colleagues.

Casualisation in particular is a worsening problem at the University of Liverpool. While some Departments fare better than others, the problem is systematic to the University as a whole.

The minimal pay uplift offered recently fails to address the suppression of pay through this erosion of secure employment. If University management is serious about helping its employees with the increasing cost of living, it will seek to end its reliance upon precarious, insecure and short-term conditions of employment.

Read these heart-breaking testimonies of why casualisation is so damaging.

"Working at a university in the UK is like being in an abusive relationship. The HE sector is morally and ethically bankrupt. Tens of thousands of lecturers, including myself, are working flat out under such precarious conditions that we are living off universal credit to survive."

A statement from a Liverpool UCU member on the effects of casualisation

“Following a traumatic birth resulting in a postpartum hemorrhage, sepsis and a lengthy stay in hospital last year, I knew that my fixed term contract was about to end and felt pressured to go back to work after only three months of maternity leave. Within weeks of returning, I was overlooked for a suitable, lesser paid redeployment post and subsequently made redundant. The sector is wholly extractive, exploitative and destructive. It's at breaking point. We're at breaking point. This has to stop.”

A statement from another Liverpool UCU member on the effects of casualisation