Fighting Against Casualisation in Education aims to bring together casualised academic workers involved in struggles around the country, to organise for our fight for better labour conditions. Our network came out of a conference organised in February 2015. This is the statement with which we launched that conference.
Casualisation in education is a scandal. In HE, 33% of the labour force is on one sort of non-permanent contract or another. Only 51% are on permanent contracts that include both teaching and research. This state of affairs damages the education of our students and puts staff into a situation of poverty and insecurity without basic employment rights. It also harms the opportunities of casualised staff to progress in their careers in line with their counterparts on the national contract. Many of us do—and are expected to—perform a myriad of tasks outside of our contractual obligations, and many are afraid to complain. It is exploitative and we refuse to put up with it.
The governments’ reforms in education have focussed on funding reform and cuts, leaving local managements to rationalise the new regime locally. This is happening through increasing student fees on the one hand, and intensifying attacks on working conditions on the other. This situation has seen the rapid expansion of zero hour, hourly paid, fractional, and teaching-only contracts or research-only contracts, where research is judged only on its capacity to attract outside funding, and not on academic merit. The sector is being fundamentally re-organised and staff and students are paying the price.
But grassroots resistance is growing too. Across the sector we have seen workers organising on the ground to fight for better labour conditions. From the successful campaign against zero hour contracts in Edinburgh, to the central London cleaners’ struggles and the SOAS Fractionals’ campaign, a new militant mood is brewing in education.
FACE aims to bring together activists involved in struggles around the country to discuss the current state of affairs, share experiences and tools for organising action on the ground, and help colleagues set up new campaigns. We aim for this conference to be a space for both discussion and organisation for all who wish to take on local managers and reverse the current direction of travel in the sector. Join us.