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.”

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