Collecting information about working conditions

One of the obstacles to organising among casualised academics is the difficulty we have in knowing how many casualised colleagues we have, who they are, or what their terms of employment are. Employers will almost never give us this information. Union branch officers can be a source of help, but are often hampered by a lack of information, for example when members regularly move between institutions without updating the Union, or work at more than one institution at once. Membership density among casualised staff is low too, unfortunately. In addition, casualised staff are likely to have heavy teaching burdens and/or be focused on producing enough research to win them an eventual permanent post. For all these reasons and more it can be hard both to identify the exact nature of casualisation at an institution and to mobilise around it.

In this position, it can be useful to organise a survey of casual staff at your institution, to find out what work they’re doing, which departments they’re doing it in, how much they get paid, whether (or to what extent!) they end up doing extra unpaid work, whether they have a contract, and so on. A survey can be useful not just as a way of gathering information, but as a starting point (or continuing point) for a campaign and a way to mobilise colleagues. Such a survey can be set up to run online through a website like surveymonkey.com, though it’s useful to promote it through offline means like posters, flyers, and face to face discussions too. There are more ideas about setting up this kind of campaign on the FACE wiki page, which is at http://fightingcasualisation.wikidot.com/

FACE members at City University who are required to teach as part of their research studentships set up the Research Students who Teach survey. It is attached here as an example of the kinds of questions that might be asked, though of course these will vary from case to case.

City FACE members will be releasing the results of this survey soon and moving on to the next stage of their campaign. Watch this space for details!

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