Why the UCU pensions ballot matters for casualised tutors

Those hourly paid tutors and other casualised academic workers who are members of UCU will probably be aware by now that our union, UCU, is currently in a huge dispute with the organisation of university employers, Universities UK (UUK), about the future of the USS pension scheme. USS is the pension scheme which applies to academic and academic-related staff of pre-92 universities in the UK. The employers are proposing hugely damaging changes to the USS pension scheme, that would see future retirees be 40% worse off than now and face insecure income in retirement.

To fight against these proposals, UCU is currently balloting its members for industrial action via a postal ballot.  THIS WEEK IS OUR LAST CHANCE TO MAKE OUR VOICES HEARD IN THE BALLOT!  The ballot closes this Friday, 19th of January.
If you are a UCU member, you should have received a ballot paper in the post some time before Christmas, with a free post envelope to return it, asking if you would be willing to take strike action and action short of a strike in defence of your pension.

If you haven’t sent off your letter with your vote yet, DO IT ASAP! Under new legislation, every vote counts, as for a ballot to be valid at least 50% of union members in each institution need to take part. So your vote really could make a massive difference. Please post your ballot this week.

Why should I care?

As a casualised worker on an insecure contract, you may be thinking: well, what’s this whole pensions issue got to do with me? I don’t even get paid enough to make ends meet now, so I’ll worry about my pensions once I have a proper employment contract.
Indeed, as many of us on hourly paid contracts are not even members of USS yet, it’s easy to assume that this dispute has nothing to do with us. However, as someone who has, potentially, their whole academic career in front of them, this ballot has actually a lot more consequences to us than it has to senior staff members. This is because senior academics will still receive the pensions they have paid into the USS until now according to the old rules; whilst if the proposed changes go through, it us early career researchers who would have to be subject to the new, much worse system. Thus, the less pension entitlements you have accrued thus far under the old scheme, the bigger the impact of this dispute on your future pensions will be.

The impact of the UUK’s aim to discontinue the current defined benefits scheme and move to a defined contributions scheme will be massive. Much of it is a bit technical, and you can find some more details here in this FAQ: http://warwickucu.org.uk/pensions/. But the bottom line is that while under the old scheme pensioners would receive a guaranteed secure ‘wage’ in retirement, under the new proposed scheme the amount of pension you would get would depend on the earnings of the fund on the stock market.  According to an analysis of independent experts First Actuarial, someone entering a lecturer position now could be almost £10,000 worse off – annually; or £ 200,000 in total (more details here: https://www.ucu.org.uk/article/9093/Overhaul-of-university-pensions-could-leave-staff-200000-worse-off-in-retirement)

There are therefore plenty of reasons to VOTE YES in the current ballot. And even if you aren’t planning for an academic career (or are not planning to stay in the UK in the long run), we would ask for you to VOTE YES in solidarity with your colleagues present and future; as any significant loss on the pensions scheme will only strengthen the hand of UUK and other employers in making future pensioners worse off.

Last but not least, the new Trade Union bill has set the threshold for employment disputes very high – as any ballot with less than 50% turnout will not be accepted as a valid call for strike. Under these circumstances, you would actually do less harm to the cause with a no vote than with an abstention. But we do sincerely hope that you will VOTE YES!

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Last Christmas, you made us some promises… an open letter to Stuart Croft, one year after WAC Six Demands

Last Christmas, after a long campaign, 1,100+ signatures collected and an impressive show of solidarity received from the Warwick community and beyond, we delivered our petition ‘Six demands for fair teaching conditions at Warwick’ to the Vice-Chancellor, Stuart Croft.
When we met with him in January 2017 to discuss our demands, the VC made us a number of promises. However, our hearts have been broken once again: one year later, we are still waiting for concrete actions to prove to us that the University’s commitments were serious. So, today we sent Stuart Croft an open letter, to remind him of what we had going on last year and make sure that this year he actually keeps his promises…

Sessional teaching at Warwick: an open letter from Warwick Anti-Casualisation

Dear Prof. Croft,

One year ago Warwick Anti-Casualisation delivered to you a petition, containing more than a 1,100 signatures from members of the University community, with six demands for fair teaching conditions for sessional tutors at Warwick. These included demands for all hourly-paid tutors to be re-classified as employees of the University; and for our work to be fairly and equally remunerated across all departments. When we met with you in January 2017 to discuss our demands, you made us two key promises.

1) You promised us that the University was committed to putting in place a process through which hourly-paid teaching could move away from its current model of widespread casualisation, towards a system where all tutors are entitled to secure employment rights. You told us that we should wait until the new Sessional Teaching Payroll (STP) was put in place, and that the University would then start a separate process to address the issue of employment status for sessional tutors. However, one year later, the issue of employment contracts for hourly-paid tutors remains unaddressed, and in fact it appears to have fallen to the bottom of the University’s agenda. Neither the SU nor UCU have been informed of, or been party to, any conversations on this topic yet. Hourly-paid tutors continue to be treated as second class members of staff – with contracts and hours of work withdrawn at will, inexcusable delays in pay, no pay increases depending on seniority, and no recognition of continuity of service. This situation is unacceptable.

2) You also promised us that STP would address our concerns about fair and equal pay across departments. However, STP has left us disappointed on a number of accounts. Despite protestations from the SU, UCU and hourly-paid tutors, the STP role profiles continue to undervalue the work of sessional tutors. In the Sciences, most tutors continue being paid at the unacceptably low rate of FA4. Across the university, tutors who hold PhDs are hired on FA5 roles that do not take into account their professional experience, skills and qualifications; and the absence of pay progression means that year on year, whilst our teaching experience grows, our paychecks remain just as low. Too much of our work still goes unpaid: the preparation hours paid under STP for some tasks, especially lecture preparation, are risibly low. And not a day has gone by this term without new problems emerging in the implementation of STP across the University. Departments are implementing the STP framework inaccurately, short-changing tutors on the hours they are entitled to be paid for; pay is routinely withheld or delayed due to mistakes in contracts and administrative oversights; and tutors are left with little or no opportunities for redress when problems arise, as emails go unanswered and proper accountability processes are lacking.

Whenever UCU has raised the concerns of hourly paid tutors, management has done its best to ignore them; and this year the University has even scrapped the STP Working Group, where tutors could at least voice their concerns. Finally, whilst we recognise that some progress on the new recognition agreement to include hourly-paid workers in collective bargaining is finally being made, this has taken more than a year to materialise – with unacceptable delays on the part of the University – and it is still not finalised.

We have been patient for one year, waiting for the progress that we had been promised, and have engaged in good faith with the STP process in the hope of achieving meaningful improvements. Now, however, our patience is starting to run out. We want to know what the University is planning to do to live up to its commitment of moving hourly-paid tutors to proper employment contracts, and what it is going to do to fix the numerous injustices that still exist in the current STP framework. We want to receive guarantees that these issues will be addressed by the beginning of the next academic year (2018/19); and that the voices of hourly-paid tutors and of our union representatives will stop being ignored. In the absence of any progress next term, we may have to consider taking action this academic year, in order to get the University to listen to our demands and live up to its unfulfilled promises.

We look forward to hearing back from you.

Yours sincerely,

Warwick Anti-Casualisation

A tragedy in three acts: an update on the STP’s ‘advance hardship payment’ fiasco

Act 1:

As you may know, ten days ago it emerged that, due to the arbitrary cut-off dates set by Sessional Teaching Payroll (STP) to process claims and issue payments, tutors that began teaching in October would not receive any payment for their work until the 24th of November. In practice, this would have meant tutors would have been working for 7 or 8 weeks before being paid. This is because the STP stipulated that timesheets had to be submitted by the 6th of October in order for teachers to be paid by the 24th of October. The problem with this is that the 6th of October marked the start of term, meaning that many teachers had not even begun teaching at that point!

In response to this ludicrous state of affairs, the University College Union (UCU) complained to the STP team, pointing out the unfairness of this system. As a result of this lobbying and of the many complaints by angry tutors, the STP team initially agreed to allow teachers to apply for ‘Hardship Advance Payment’ (a ridiculous and insulting name, considering that our ‘hardship’ is being caused by the University’s unwillingness to pay us our wages on time) which would allow them to receive some of the money that they are owed before the 24th of November.

On the notice published on the STP website on Monday 23rd October, it was originally stated that “individuals can apply for an advance of 65% of the value of timesheet that were submitted on time and authorised by the department (or up to £100)”. All tutors concerned, and UCU alike, interpreted this as meaning that tutors would be allowed to claim 65% of the value of the hours submitted and authorised up to that point – or up to £100 in case the 65% amount was lower than that. Not ideal, but better than nothing, we thought!

Act 2

The story did not end there, however. The notice on the STP website was changed retroactively on Wednesday 25th of October (still stating the 23rd of October publication date, however – cheeky!). Without any transparency or any apparent rationale, the wording of the announcement was modified to state that the amount of money available to each teacher was to be capped at £100.

For many teachers, some of whom have families to support, this is a meagre sum of money to live on until the end of November. To make matters worse, the STP team has given teachers only one week to submit claims for Hardship Advance Payment, with a deadline of Monday 30th of October. In addition, the procedure to submit a payment claim has not been properly publicised. No email has been sent around to inform teachers of the coming delay in their remuneration, nor of the possibility of applying for this advance payment.

Act 3

UCU and the SU complained again to HR and the STP team, asking for the £100 cap to be lifted and for the 65% threshold for advance payment to be applied with no capping. After a lot of emails ignored, selective silences and follow-up phone calls, HR finally responded to UCU on Friday 27th of October, agreeing for the £100 cap to be lifted and stating that tutors would be able to claim up to 65% of timesheet value submitted and approved by their department up to and including the 15th of October. They also agreed to move the deadline to apply for the advance payments to Wednesday 1st of November at 5pm. Whilst it is positive that the £100 cap has been removed following pressure from UCU and the SU, the deadline of 15th October as cut-off point to calculate the advance is yet a new arbitrary requirement, that was never mentioned in any of the previous communications or notices. So what is the University playing at? It appears that every time that we raise our voices to complain, they shift the goalpost so as to avoid having to pay us what we are owed.

This story does not end here – take action now!

At the time of writing (Monday 30th of October), still no update has been published on the STP website about the new terms and conditions and deadlines to apply for these advance payments. UCU has communicated to its members about the updated guidance received from HR on Friday 27th, but still no information has been made available by the University to its workers. As always, hourly paid workers are left in a limbo where they are denied not only fundamental employment rights – such as the right to receive payments on time – but also the basic courtesy of receiving clear information and being treated in a transparent and dignified fashion. As Warwick Anti-Casualisation, we see this as yet another episode testifying to the contempt with which the University of Warwick treats its most vulnerable workers. The very fact that this measure has been named a “hardship advance” payment is insulting – as it implies that the University is doing us a courtesy by granting us some pocket money “in advance”, rather than acknowledging its failure in setting up a payment system which is fit for purpose and aligned with the timings of term time!

The advice we would like to give is that those who want to should apply for an advance payment equal to 65% of the hours worked and submitted so far, ignoring any arbitrary “cap”. If the administration decides to withhold or unfairly cap the pay that we are rightfully entitled to, shame on them – but let’s not do their dirty work for them!

For those interested, the payment claim form can be found hidden away in the Human Resources website next to a short (and still incorrect) explanation: https://www2.warwick.ac.uk/services/humanresources/internal/payroll/stp/announcements/?newsItem=8a17841b5f2acca4015f48dc9a9a68ee

If you have submitted timesheets and these have not yet been approved by your department, write to anticasualisation@warwickucu.org.uk and the union will help you to chase this up.

We would also like to encourage all hourly-paid teachers to write to the STP office at the Human Resources department to complain about this outrageous mismanagement of our wages and disregard for our working conditions: stp@warwick.ac.uk.  If you are going to submit an advance payment claim, you can use the following template to express your disappointment, or just make up your own!

“Dear STP team,

My name is X and I am a STP tutor in X department.

Thank you for your response to concerns about income insecurity of STP tutors before November. However, calling this a “hardship advancement payment” is insulting. £100 is not adequate remuneration for the hours and effort I have spent on teaching in the past few weeks, and more importantly, the actual amount that I deserve. As a responsible employer, paying employees in a timely way is not a mercy you do, but your obligation.

Attached is my payment request form, please process the full amount of pay that I am entitled to as soon as possible. I am CC’ing the UCU and the SU in this email for their information.

I look forward to hearing from you.”

Feel free to CC your Students’ Union Postgraduate Officer (postgrads@warwicksu.com) and the UCU’s anti-casualisation representatives (anticasualisation@warwickucu.org.uk). In addition, we would also like to encourage you to join UCU if you have not already (it is free!): https://www.ucu.org.uk/join.

And of course, join us!  Like our Facebook page (‘Warwick Anti-Casualisation’) and help us fight against insecure working conditions, and come along to our next organising meeting. It’s only by keeping up the pressure that we will make progress!

More STP problems: pay withheld from teachers at Warwick

This term has seen the implementation of the University’s new Sessional Teaching Payroll (STP) system, yet it is already off to a rocky start.

Hourly-paid teachers, who are the main point of contact for students, are being forced into financial difficulties by an unfair payment system. Teachers that began teaching in October will not receive any payment for their work until the 26th of November, meaning that they will have to work for 7 or 8 weeks before being paid. This is because the STP stipulated that timesheets had to be submitted by the 6th of October in order for teachers to be paid by the 26th of October. The problem with this is that the 6th of October marked the start of term, meaning that many teachers had not even begun teaching at that point!

In response to this, the University College Union (UCU) complained to the STP team, pointing out the unfairness of this system. As a result of this lobbying, the STP team agreed to allow teachers to apply for ‘Hardship Advance Payment’ (a ridiculous name, considering that our ‘hardship’ is being caused by the University’s unwilling to pay us our wages) which would allow them to receive some of the money that they are owed before the 26th of November. However, the amount of money available to each teacher was limited to just £100. For many teachers, some of whom have families to support, this is a meagre sum of money to live on until the end of November. To make matters worse, the STP team has given teachers only one week to submit claims for Hardship Advance Payment, with a deadline of Monday 30th of October. In addition, the procedure to submit a payment claim has not been properly publicised. No email has been sent around to inform teachers of the coming delay in their remuneration. For those interested, the payment claim form can be found hidden away in the Human Resources website next to a short explanation: https://www2.warwick.ac.uk/services/humanresources/internal/payroll/stp/announcements/?newsItem=8a17841b5f2acca4015f48dc9a9a68ee

This particular issue with the rollout of STP is only one of many. From what we can gather, all hourly-paid teachers in the History department have yet to be issued contracts, a situation that puts them in a position of utmost arbitrariness with regard to their working conditions. In addition, there are huge problems with regard to the remuneration of marking hours in the English department, and there is a total lack of transparency in the advice and feedback hours for teachers in the Politics department.

We would like to encourage all hourly-paid teachers to write to the STP office at the Human Resources department to complain about this outrageous mismanagement of our wages and disregard for our working conditions: stp@warwick.ac.uk. Feel free to CC your Students’ Union Postgraduate Officer (postgrads@warwicksu.com) and the UCU’s anti-casualisation representatives (anticasualisation@warwickucu.org.uk). In addition, we would also like to encourage you to join UCU if you have not already (it is free!): https://www.ucu.org.uk/join. And of course, join us! Like our facebook page and help us fight against insecure working conditions.

Hourly-paid teaching at Warwick: a brief history

When teaching at a big, powerful university like Warwick, it’s easy to feel like your pay and conditions are set in stone, with no possibility of improvement. Yet, while it’s certainly difficult to affect change, there is reason to believe that significant advances can be made in how teachers are treated at this university. We thought that it might be useful to provide a brief overview of some of the struggles for better pay and conditions at Warwick in recent years.

In April 2015, the university announced the creation of a new hiring system for hourly-paid teachers, called TeachHigher, which was designed to replace the old Variable Monthly Staff (VAM) system. Under this scheme, teachers would be hired through a separate company owned by Warwick, and would be legally considered ‘workers’ rather than ‘employees’ of the university, thus stripping them of employment rights and securities.

This controversial ‘insourcing’ plan met fierce resistance, both on campus – from teachers, the SU, the University and College Union (UCU), Warwick for Free Education and the group Fighting Against Casualisation in Education (FACE) – and in the national press – with coverage from the Independent, Times Higher Education, and Vice. This pressure worked, and in early June 2015, the university announced their abandonment of TeachHigher.

In its place, the university began planning a new system to replace VAM, named the Sessional Teaching Payroll (STP). Determined not to get complacent, teachers and anti-casualisation activists began to build a campaign to make sure STP was not simply TeachHigher under a new banner. In March 2016, Warwick Anti-Casualisation (WAC) launched a campaign to get teachers to keep a teaching diary for the week, in order to track how many hours they spent on seminars, preparation, and advice and feedback. The results of the survey demonstrated that teachers in STP pilot departments were performing many unpaid hours of work.

Building on the data collected from the teaching diaries, WAC launched its 6 Demands petition in November 2016. This campaign demanded that hourly-paid teachers must 1) be made employees of the university; 2) be paid for every hour worked; 3) be paid at consistent and fair rates; 4) that there must be pay harmony across departments; 5) that compulsory teaching as a condition for scholarships must be abolished; and 6) that teachers must be paid for compulsory training.

This campaign gained a lot of exposure on campus, following a number of public events, and was given a further boost when the group Warwick for Free Education occupied a new conference centre on campus and included WAC’s 6 Demands amongst their own demands. The petition finally gained more than 1,100 signatures – from students, staff, and alumni – and was delivered to university management in December 2016.

The 6 Demands campaign listed its first success in January 2017: Vice Chancellor Stuart Croft agreed to meet with WAC representatives and discuss teaching conditions at Warwick. Croft agreed that hourly-paid teachers should have the right to be represented by UCU – a very important step for a highly casualised, non-unionised workforce. However, while the campaign resulted in significant improvements to the new STP framework, it is still a deeply problematic scheme, as detailed in this WAC post and this SU blogpost.

The recent history of the struggle for fairer teaching at Warwick has seen both successes and setbacks – but what is clear is that the current terms and conditions are not set in stone, and can be changed through collective campaigning.  

6 demands 5 months on: some victories achieved and the road ahead

It was only last December that Warwick Anti-Casualisation delivered our “6 Demands” petition, complete with more than 1,100 signatures, to University of Warwick management. In the five months since submitting our petition, there has been important progress. We met with Vice Chancellor Stuart Croft to discuss our demands; as a result of the petition, University and College Union (UCU) has begun working out a recognition agreement that will allow hourly-paid teachers to be represented by them; and we have worked hard with the SU and UCU to ensure that the voices of hourly-paid tutors were heard in the formulation of the new Sessional Teaching Payroll (STP) framework. Right now, the University of Warwick’s STP Steering Group is meeting to decide on the new Sessional Teaching Payroll framework, which will apply to all hourly-paid tutors at Warwick from the next academic year. So what has happened with our six demands?

While it is certain that the campaigns of the last five months have made a significant contribution to improving the position of sessional teachers at Warwick, we must not delude ourselves into thinking the battle is over – there is still a great deal of work to do, because most of our basic demands for fair teaching conditions remain unmet. And this is the current balance sheet of our 6 demands when compared to the new framework.

Demand 1: “Hourly-paid teachers must be made employees of the University. Currently, hourly-paid teachers hold the inferior legal status of ‘workers’ but not of ‘employees’. This deprives them, unjustifiably, of the standard employment rights enjoyed by salaried members of staff”.

Current status: There has been zero progress on this fundamental and basic demand. Even under the new STP framework, hourly-paid teachers will still be hired through so-called contracts for services. This deprives teachers of employment rights such as job security, payment for training, sick pay, pensions, maternity leave, and year-on-year pay progression.

Demand 2: “Hourly-paid teachers must be paid for every hour worked. Assigned time allowances do not reflect the reality of teaching. As a result, teachers have to work many unpaid hours”.

Current status: After the very vocal outcry regarding this issue, from casualised teachers, the Students’ Union, and UCU, there has been some welcome progress on this issue in the new STP framework. However, the results are mixed and vary across different faculties.

Arts and Social Sciences:
One additional hour of advice and feedback will be paid to hourly-paid teachers (two hours for every two seminar groups of less than 25, with double rates for larger groups).The pay rate for essay marking will be increased, to one hour of pay per 3000 words.

However, exam marking will not improve – under the proposed new STP framework, it will remain at one hour paid per six hours of script. Furthermore, this will not address the fact that teachers are not given additional payment for written exam feedback, which is required by some departments. Teachers will still be forced to complete this extra work in their own free time.

Laboratory and Mathematical Sciences:
There has been some progress in the Laboratory Sciences guaranteeing certain levels of preparation. However, in the Mathematical Sciences preparation time and marking rates remain completely at the discretion of these departments. While flexibility is required for varying lengths of assessments, the level of permissible variation leaves students with no guarantees that they will receive sufficient time allocated to do the necessary work. There has been no concerted effort within departments to ensure that marking rates are appropriate. Furthermore basic principles adopted for the Arts and Social Sciences have not been taken on board for the Mathematical Sciences. This clearly undermines the whole purpose of STP, which was to harmonise teaching practices across the university, which in turn threatens that teachers in some departments will get a worse deal than others.

Demand 3: “Hourly-paid teachers must be paid at consistent and fair rates. Some departments pay different rates for different tasks within the same job, despite them being interconnected and requiring the same skill level. To recognise the level of skill involved in the teaching delivered, we demand a pay rate of at least FA5 for all tasks”.

Current status: We have seen some important progress on this demand, as all tasks within specific jobs are now paid at the same rate. However, there is still a lot of room for improvement. Certain teaching roles in the Sciences will still be paid at FA4, despite requiring advanced, university level skills. We continue to argue that this is unacceptable.

Demand 4: “There must be pay harmony across departments. At the moment pay rates vary across departments; we demand equal pay for equal work across departments”.

Current status: Unfortunately, pay harmony across departments still does not exist. Some roles in the sciences will still be paid at FA4 rather than FA5. Furthermore, in the Sciences, departments will continue to have the power to assign paid preparation and advice and feedback times at will, which will lead to further discrepancies in pay.

Demand 5: “Compulsory teaching as a condition for scholarships must be abolished. Teaching bursaries are exploitative because they basically require PhD students to work for free. Not only do these arrangements make it hard for postgraduate researchers to meet their actual living costs, but they are also not conducive to the long-term quality of teaching”.

Current status: There has been mixed progress on this demand. At first glance, it appears that teaching bursaries have truly been abolished – but this is misleading. The new framework rules that teaching must not be part of any research related bursary or scholarship, but that payment for teaching must instead be outlined separately. So far so good. However, as the framework does not stipulate the minimum amount of money provided by research bursaries, this leaves open the possibility that departments will merely lower the amount of funding attached to scholarships and thus force PhD students to take up teaching anyway in order to get by. For teaching to truly be a choice, research scholarships need to be set at a level that allows for a decent standard of living; for example, equivalent to the RCUK level.

Demand 6: “Hourly-paid teachers should be paid for the hours they spend undertaking teaching-related training. This should include all hours needed to achieve affiliate Higher Education Academy (HEA) status”.

Current status: Through sleight of hand, the University has failed to address this demand. While the new framework does state that all mandatory training will be paid, it sneakily defines the basic teaching training that every teacher must undergo as a mandatory “transferable skill” workshop. Additional training will only be paid if departments have additional training requirements, such as briefings on specific rules regarding marking and feedback. The key teacher training will continue to be completely unpaid. This demonstrates that the University is either not interested in offering its students well-trained teachers, or is hoping that hourly-paid teachers will complete the necessary training in their own free time.

Without the pressure applied by hourly-paid tutors, the SU and UCU, no progress would have been made and the STP framework would be much worse than what is currently on the table. We are proud of the concessions that WAC’s campaign has been able to extract, and we owe all of our supporters a big thank you for helping us to get to this point. The road ahead, however, is still long. WAC will continue to organise and agitate until all our demands for equal pay, real employment contracts and fair working conditions for sessional teachers are met.

Together we can win – watch this space and message us to find out how to get involved!

WAC statement on the progress of Warwick’s Sessional Teaching Project

Today marks the last day when the University will be accepting feedback from hourly paid tutors before proceeding to finalise and approve the new ‘role descriptors’ for sessional teaching roles within the University, as part of its ‘Sessional Teaching Project’ farce.

We are extremely disappointed that the University has chosen to ignore the voices of over 1100 members of the Warwick community in drawing up the new role profiles for the Sessional Teaching Payroll. These new ‘role descriptors’, which are supposed to capture the skills, attributes and tasks involved in each teaching role, have been drawn up through an alleged process of ‘consultation’ which has however been purely cosmetic. Hourly paid tutors in departments have not been put in a position to meaningfully shape the content of these new roles descriptions, and the process has remained firmly led by management throughout. The proposed role descriptors will now be subject to a ‘technical’ and supposedly neutral process of assessment to determine the appropriate pay grade at which they will be remunerated. But their current formulation significantly underestimates the level of skills and competences involved in some of the teaching roles, especially in the Sciences, and makes it highly likely that these will be ‘neutrally’ assessed to fall within a lower pay grade (i.e. FA4) than equivalent roles in the Social Sciences (FA5). This, in our view, is completely unacceptable, and in direct contradiction with the demands we presented in our petition.

When the university scrapped its Teach Higher project in 2015, we welcomed the University’s declared commitment to formulating a new payment model with the input of those who will be affected by it. We applaud all those hourly-paid tutors who have sought to intervene in the university’s plans via the formal ‘feedback’ mechanisms, but we are sorry to say our initial fear that the STP user group feedback would not find its way into the university’s final plans has been vindicated. Instead, the university has treated the particulars of STP as a foregone conclusion; and the resulting role descriptors are a proof of such approach. If Teach Higher demonstrated the political will of the university, STP has been the means by which the university has tried to assert that will, despite opposition.

Our 6 demands were clear, and thanks to 1100+ signatories, they were loud. Across the university, many educators privately welcomed the change of leadership at the helm in 2016, but the administration’s approach of delaying meaningful negotiations about our six demands after the completion of the STP process suggests little has changed in reality.

Our struggle continues.

We demand that:

1) Hourly-paid teachers must be made employees of the University. Currently, hourly-paid teachers hold the inferior legal status of ‘workers’ but not of ‘employees’. This deprives them, unjustifiably, of the standard employment rights enjoyed by salaried members of staff.
2) Hourly-paid teachers must be paid for every hour worked. Assigned time allowances do not reflect the reality of teaching. As a result, teachers have to work many unpaid hours.
3) Hourly-paid teachers must be paid at consistent and fair rates. Some departments pay different rates for different tasks within the same job, despite them being interconnected and requiring the same skill level. To recognise the level of skill involved in the teaching delivered, we demand a pay rate of at least FA5 for all tasks.
4) There must be pay harmony across departments. At the moment pay rates vary across departments; we demand equal pay for equal work across departments.
5) Compulsory teaching as a condition for scholarships must be abolished. Teaching bursaries are exploitative because they basically require PhD students to work for free. Not only do these arrangements make it hard for postgraduate researchers to meet their actual living costs, but they are also not conducive to the long-term quality of teaching.
6) Hourly-paid teachers should be paid for the hours they spend undertaking teaching-related training. This should include all hours needed to achieve affiliate Higher Education Academy (HEA) status.”