ARE YOU HIRED ON STP, VAM, A FRACTIONAL OR FIXED-TERM CONTRACT? JOIN THE UCU STRIKE!

STRIKING FOR PENSIONS TODAY MEANS FIGHTING AGAINST INSECURITY TOMORROW

1. What’s the strike all about?

The employers association Universities UK (UUK) have unilaterally decided to end the USS “defined benefits” pension scheme that covers staff in most UK universities, including Warwick. They plan to  replace it with a much worse “defined contributions” scheme:

  • Retirement risks will be individualised instead of pooled, and pensions income dependent on returns from financial markets.
  • Up to 20-40% income loss in retirement: UCU estimates average losses of 10k per year, 200k per person. This would make Universities pensions the worst pensions in the UK education sector.

UCU (University and College Union) have therefore called for unprecedented strike action: 14 days of strike over four weeks, starting on 22/02, in 61 out of 68 UK Universities.

2. Why should hourly paid tutors strike for pensions?

  • Early career staff will be most affected by the change, as they won’t have accrued entitlements under the current scheme. You will incur a massive loss of future financial security!
  • Once the pension scheme is closed there won’t be a chance for renegotiation.
  • Wherever your career takes you, you will sooner or later be in a pension scheme. Don’t let UUK sabotage USS: if they are successful, this will encourage other employers to do the same to other pension schemes.  
  • This is part of a broader attack on working conditionsstaff in UK Higher Education: we already face low pay and insecure employment – now they’re attacking our future pensions, too. We can’t let this happen!

The effectiveness of the strike relies on mass participation of all staff. It’s an act of solidarity!

3. The Union has your back!

Striking is a legal right. You need to be a member of UCU to be able to join in strike action. You can join online, up to the day of the strike: it’s easy, free for postgrads who teach, and cheap if your income is low: https://www.ucu.org.uk/join. Union members are protected from victimisation from their employer if they take strike action.

UCU has a national strike fund to compensate for (some) lost income, & at Warwick we’re setting up a local hardship fund, too, that will prioritise low paid, casualised staff.

We got answers to all your strike questions: http://warwickucu.org.uk/pensions (Warwick) & https://www.ucu.org.uk/uss-action-faqs (national).

If you wanna find out more and get involved:

  • Come along to the UCU information event for casualised staff! Wednesday 14th February, Wednesday 14 February; 5:30-6:30; S0.19. Members of the branch committee will be on hand to answer your particular concerns and outline details of the Hardship Fund.
  • Come to Warwick Anti-Casualisation information event on the strike! Thursday 15th February, 5.30pm, S0.11. https://www.facebook.com/events/818763578303367/ 
  • Download the flyers below, print them out and distribute them in your department and to all your casualised colleagues. Let’s spread the word!

WAC Flyer strike – A4

WAC Flyer strike – A5 to print

See you at the picket lines! We will organise a day of picketing for casualised members of staff, to bring our issues at the centre of the dispute. Watch out for updates on www.facebook.com/WarwickAntiCasualisation

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Open letter from Wac in response to Stuart Croft

Before Christmas, as Warwick Anti-Casualisation we sent an open letter to the Vice-Chancellor, Stuart Croft, to raise a number of concerns we had around STP and the contracts of hourly paid tutors. We were glad to see an official letter from the man himself appear in our inbox in January 2018. That’s until we read it. Without context, it might seem like the University are doing a stellar job at looking after hourly paid tutors – that the occasional issue that arises is dealt with easily, and that everyone will soon feel the security of an employment contract for their teaching. This could not be further away from the truth. That’s why we thought it’d be a good idea to set the record straight.

RECAP: In January 2017, Warwick Anti-Casualisation met with the Vice Chancellor, Stuart Croft, to discuss the demands made in our petition, Six Demands for Fair Teaching Conditions at Warwick, following Warwick for Free Education’s occupation of the Slate building. The VC made a number of commitments during this meeting, including the extension of the recognition agreement allowing UCU to negotiate collectively on behalf of casualised tutors between the UCU and University. However, by December 2017, progress hadn’t been made on these. WAC returned to the VC’s door , like the Ghost of Christmas Past, to remind Croft of the promises made which were still outstanding. (see our Last Christmas video). Our December 2017 open letter can be found here. Here, we raise two primary concerns: that there has been no progress on the promised move away from casualised contracts; and that STP has not addressed the issue of fair and equal pay and treatment for tutors across all departments. The VC’s response evades these concerns and simply reiterates the same, old rhetoric that we have heard from HR time and time again in these months.

The VC’s letter also does not mention the enormous administrative effort performed by casualised tutors and administrative staff to make the system work a little more to our convenience (i.e. really getting paid), nor does it mention that this is due to our status as contractors who supposedly issue a bill for every hour we work.

It is simply not true that STP has addressed issues around pay equity. Discrepancies continue to exist between departments; many hours of work performed by STP tutors continue to go unpaid. The absurdity of the worker status is not acceptable to us. Not only does it deprive us of rights that employees have, it is a completely asymmetric and unjustified relationship. While we have to bear all the costs of being fully “flexible” according to the University’s needs, with a result of zero job security, we don’t have any benefits of a supposed “flexibility” – our whole “engagement” is scheduled by the department. Our quasi self-employment status is a pure myth and a cheap accounting trick – and the only reason why we have to endure the bureaucratic hour submissions each week, even though they are the same every time, just to maintain the fiction of our supposed freedom to work independently.

We want a recognition agreement before term 3, and we want it to be a recognition agreement according to the best practice standards of UCU rather than the bare legal minimum.

We thought we should publish the letter with some of our annotations, so that you can see how the situation really is: LETTER

Paragraphs highlighted in yellow are more-or-less lifted directly from the STP informational pages. We’ve broken down the letter into sections to offer a response.

In Section 1 you’ll notice that the VC stresses “consultation” numerous times, particularly during Section 1. “The STP concept has been subject to considerable consultation”…”All draft role profiles were subject to University wide consultation”… “These frameworks were subject to a University wide and in-depth level of consultation”. The fallacy here is in assuming that consultation equates consensus, that acceptable working and pay conditions were achieved as part of this consultation. WAC’s Six Demands show that there are many issues which the University has failed to address. While consultation may have taken place, fair conditions have not been the result. Consultation is not negotiation. The one-directional gesture gives hourly-paid tutors no say in the execution of what we have supposedly been consulted on. Too often, for the University, ‘consultation’ just meant continuing to do what they would have done any way, even when STP tutors and, in many cases, departments as well had expressed their disagreement.

Section 2 asserts that a robust resolution route is in place for disputes that arise under STP, and that no disputes have been raised beyond STP Coordinators. We at WAC are constantly collecting feedback from hourly-paid tutors. As we said in our December letter, there have been many instances of late contracts and contracts issued without marking allocations, just to name a couple of major concerns. And time and time again emails from our union representatives raising issues have gone ignored and unanswered. That management is not aware of these huge failings in the system is indicative of the poor quality of the dispute resolution route. As for contacting departmental STP Coordinators, the names of these were only uploaded to the STP webpage at the end of term one – prior to this, there has been confusion with communication even with basic departmental issues.The last sentence in this section also asserts that UCU has not shared any unresolved cases, but where UCU has tried to raise issues beyond individual cases, this went unheard.

Section 3 suggests that pay parity is being met by STP. We disagree – in our December letter, we stated:

“You also promised us that STP would address our concerns about fair and equal pay across departments … 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.”

Evidentially, our concerns have not been heard.

Where our call for change was heard was during October 2017, when it was found that owing to early cut-off dates, tutors would not receive remuneration for their teaching for seven weeks. Widespread lobbying from tutors resulted in “advance” payments being made available. However, the advance payment deadline was early, the terms changed seemingly by the minute (from offering 60% of the expected payment, to just £100) and needless bureaucracy led to these advances being inaccessible for many people. The original name of “advance hardship payments” showed no understanding of the issue, treating it in the same way in which regular staff, under exceptional circumstances, would claim payments before they deliver work, whereas in this case it was simply a matter of not having to wait two months for payment – clearly quite a different scenario. In addition. Section 4 of the VC’s letter recognises the issue with payroll cut off dates, but makes no reference to the extensive lobbying that went into the University taking action on this.

Section 5 asserts that UCU were invited to attend the weekly operational meeting group at this term’s JCC (Joint Consultative Committee). As far as we know, this invitation was not formally extended to the UCU’s anti-casualisation representatives, but was only mentioned in passing. STP forums may have (finally) begun in some departments, but these are not the opportunities for accountability we hoped they would be; instead, we’ve heard reports of a lack of tutor awareness and staff interest in them.

Moving on to Section 6, the VC references “other potential models of engagement for sessional teachers” outside of STP. He doesn’t make it clear what “models of engagement” he means here. We don’t want Unitemps, or TeachHigher…we want employment contracts. In our December letter, we said:

“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.”

Outside of Stuart’s brief reference to “other potential models of engagement for sessional teachers”, there isn’t any indication that progress has been made on this.

While there’s a reference to “recognition of hourly paid staff” in the final paragraph, we’re confused as to why the recognition agreement with UCU, which is currently under revision to include workers,hasn’t been explicitly mentioned. Progress on the recognition agreement is moving very slowly, and we fear that the delays are used partly to play off against each other hourly paid tutors and regular employees, who are currently on a dispute with University to combat planned reduction in employment protection and academic freedom in Statute 24.

The VC’s assertion that consultations took place while STP was in development fails to understand that, during its pilot and now rolled out across the institution, STP itself, and the mechanisms surrounding it, are the problem. We reiterate the points made in our December letter – tutors are still lacking fair working conditions, and promised progress to amend this is not being made.

Join Warwick Anti-Casualisation at warwickanticasualisation@gmail.com, and on Facebook.

WAC Response to UCU’s Statement on Statue 24

WAC declares its full support of the UCU’s statement on the latest developments in the dispute around Statute 24.

We join the UCU in rejecting the University’s dichotomy between casualised labour and academic freedom. “Permanent” contracts without the security of being able to engage in research, and without fair redundancy procedures in place, are meaningless. A reduction in insecure, precarious contracts cannot come at the expense of academic freedom, nor can it come at the expense of – and this is the ironic implication of the VC’s proposal – fair, secure employment. We thus wholeheartedly agree with UCU that management’s proposal is an explicit attempt at creating divisions amongst Warwick staff. As casualised workers, we refuse to be used as bargaining chips by the University and reiterate our – as yet unheard – demand for fair employment contracts for all.

We republish the UCU’s statement below for your information.

 

UCU position on latest statute 24 developments: 

Job security for permanent staff does not cause casualisation;

  1. Academic freedom without job security is meaningless

Last year, the University announced plans to gut its employment statute, Statute 24, thus putting at risk Warwick staff’s job security and academic freedom. Thanks to the mass-mobilization of UCU members, we have won important victories – Senate chose not to approve the reforms at its meeting last June, meaning that they did not go forward to Council. However, the fight is far from over.

In the most recent volley, the Provost published an update on 18 December 2017 on the University’s intranet.  UCU sets out below its response to the points made by the University.

 

Casualization

The University says:

It is hoped that as a consequence of more streamlined employment processes, the University will be able to review its contractual offering for academic staff with a view to reducing dependency on fixed term and casual contracts.

 

What the University means is:

If we make it easier to dismiss people on permanent contracts, we might be willing able to offer permanent contracts more often.

Once again, the University’s interpretation of fairness is about levelling down rather than levelling up.  By implying that our current statutes are the cause of an increased reliance on casualized contracts, the university presents these developments as inevitable. It therefore fails to acknowledge that the increase in these forms of working is a direct result of choices which have been made by university management, and in the broader context of attacks on publicly-funded higher education teaching and research.

UCU wishes to make clear that the University has made no offer of any concessions on casualization. We therefore view the University’s statement as a lazy and cynical attempt to create divisions within our membership and within the university more widely.

 

Disciplinary and Redundancy

The University says it wants:

More streamlined employment processes

What the University means is:

We’ll offer our employees no more than the minimum protections enshrined in employment law.  We want to make it easier and quicker to dismiss members of staff either by redundancy or through disciplinary processes.

The University’s latest statement made no mention of its proposals on disciplinary and redundancy, preferring to concentrate on the issue of academic freedom.  UCU welcomes the fact that the University is at least acknowledging the threats its proposed changes pose to academic freedom seriously, though this should not obscure the fact that UCU has repeatedly advised the University that we cannot agree to the proposed documents for redundancy and disciplinary.

 

Academic Freedom and Job Security

The University says it:

believes that the proposals will serve to strengthen the protection of academic freedom afforded to academic members of staff

 

UCU says:

Without proper protection in place against redundancy and disciplinary procedures, assurances about academic freedom are meaningless. Casualization undermines academic freedom as precariously-employed academics feel pressures to avoid controversial areas of research and publish in particular journals and with particular publishers. Without job security, there cannot be academic freedom.

 

The University says:

a Committee could be established, to determine whether academic freedom had been infringed prior to the instigation of any disciplinary/grievance proceedings. In the case of redundancy proceedings affecting academic members of staff, the Committee would determine at an early stage whether the proposed redundancy pool and criteria represented an infringement of academic freedom.

 

UCU says:

All cases of academic redundancy involve questions of academic freedom.  We should be free as academics to pursue research into topics which are not currently fashionable.  There are many cases of research generating significant outputs only after many years. Such work would be wiped out at a stroke with the imposition of a short-term audit culture. The consequences of this are all too evident elsewhere in the sector as the situation at Essex demonstrates (sign the petition here: http://speakout.web.ucu.org.uk/university-of-essex/).

 

Issues of performance inevitably involve questions of academic freedom.  Telling academics that they must publish in certain outlets itself transgresses academic freedom.
The UCU calls on the University to ensure academic freedom by providing job security, lessening its reliance on insecure and badly-paid contracts, and treating its casualised workers with respect.

 

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!

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.