The Irish Federation of University Teachers has launched a Charter for casual workers in University College Cork, providing a code of practice for members to support and defend casual and precarious workers within the university.
The charter, adopted by the Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT) University College Cork (UCC) branch, acknowledges the fact that at least one-third of teaching staff are now employed on a purely casual basis.
The charter was conceived as a result of an IFUT-hosted meeting, entitled “Casualisation of Academic Work: Solidarity or Precarity”, organised by the IFUT UCC branch last April.
It demonstrates agreed principles which IFUT members will observe in order to increase pressure on UCC to improve its employment and labour practices. It also aims to underpin collective action which can be taken by established staff to protect those who are more vulnerable.
“Over 200 people are now affected in UCC alone,” said IFUT General Secretary, Mike Jennings, who called for a reversal of casualisation policy in UCC, and throughout the university system. “This is extremely demotivating for those involved and indeed for all academic staff. It results in rapid staff turnover, extremely precarious pay and conditions, and is totally unsatisfactory from the perspective of good teaching practice.”
By taking actions in this way, IFUT members can ensure they are not implicated in, or supportive of, exploitative working practices, Jennings stressed.
The full IFUT Charter for UCC reads:
· “We will not co-operate with unethical/exploitative employment or labour practices
· We will take collective action to defend the rights of casual workers
· We will speak up against efforts to casualise our academic work
· We will acknowledge that precarious workers require our support and are vulnerable
· We will use social media to share stories of precarity
· We will engage with the Students’ Union to ensure that students are aware of the unacceptable conditions of employment to which some of their lecturers and tutors are subject
· We will discuss widely and openly the plight of precarious casual workers with our colleagues so that nobody can claim that they are unaware of the situation
· We will enquire into the status of colleagues with whom we work and liaise, and insist that they are being paid for all the work that they do, including lecture preparation, meetings with faculty and students, and marking/assessing
· We will call on our own individual departments, schools and colleges to declare precisely the extent of the use of casual workers to support their programmes
· We will launch and engage in a campaign to openly acknowledge the extent of the use of casual workers to support programmes: “How many casual credits?
· Where hourly paid work is all that is provided, we will campaign for the establishment of a substantial and realistic baseline number of hours that should be paid to all involved in casual teaching and supervising, over and above their actual class contact time”