Respond to the demands of the SOAS fractional teaching staff's fair pay campaign
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We are writing this Open Letter to encourage all members of UCU and our wider academic profession - whether in the most tenured position or the most tenuous - to express support for the campaign by fractional academic staff at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London to improve their conditions.
UCU's Anti-Casualisation Day on May 7 offers a real opportunity for colleagues to express their solidarity.
A new generation of academic staff in our institutions are frequently offered teaching contracts without research time. What started as ad hoc cover posts for sabbatical or maternity leave has become a large reserve army of teachers expected to absorb both expansion and contraction in an increasingly market-driven sector. The number of such staff is set to increase further if, as expected, Universities expand to meet tuition fee demand.
In recent years, many local campaigns by UCU branches have been successful in improving the formal employment status of such staff, and again and again, casual contracts with negligible rights have been replaced with part-time ('fractional') employment.
But there is a second problem highlighted by the regularisation and expansion of teaching-only employment contracts.
We know only too well that our sector has a chronic problem of workload. The issue affects full-time senior academics working 60-80 hours a week, and young staff just starting out who feel obligated to follow suit. The pressure works both ways, with professors and lecturers now told to step up their workload in the face of mounting teaching demands and competition from younger, 'hungrier', staff.
The UCU-led campaign at SOAS, called Fractionals For Fair Pay (FFFP), has exposed the issue of workload for teaching-only staff in their institution. Over 100 part-time staff have signed an open letter saying that they are regularly expected to work beyond their contracted hours. Their testimonies describe routine pressure to work for free, underestimation of duties, unpaid duties, courses and marking, and the dilemma of staff balancing their concern for students' success with their own privations.
We do not believe that these conditions are unique to SOAS. But we congratulate the FFFP campaign in making a stand.
We call on SOAS management to meet with representatives of the campaign and union branch to resolve staff demands in a fair and collegial manner, and to negotiate a new agreement with the union to ensure that workload grievances are addressed in the same collegial spirit and SOAS becomes a beacon for better terms and conditions for staff, whatever their contract.
Initial signatories include
Elizabeth Lawrence, UCU President-elect
Alan Barker, Karen Evans, Mark Campbell, Lesley Kane, Jane Hardy, Veronica Killen, Jo McNeill, Mahmoona Shah, Sean Vernell, Sean Wallis, UCU NEC
Nadje Al-Ali, SOAS UCU President
More informationPlease send messages of support for FFFP Campaign to email@example.com. See also
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