Zero tolerance for zero-hours contracts

Zero-hours contracts have no place in Higher Education

Wednesday November 13 2013, 5.30pm

Public Meeting

London Metropolitan University, GCG08
(Tower Building opposite Holloway Road Tube Station)

Speakers to include: John McDonnell MP (tbc), Liz Lawrence (Vice President UCU), Katherine West (Leader Labour Group Islington Council), John Fox (Branch Chair Bakers Union Hovis), Jane Thompson (UCU HPL National Officer) plus UCU Member Edinburgh University

Jointly organised by London Met UCU, UNISON and Students Union

In some universities as many as half of all staff are on zero hours contracts.

The revelation that Zero Hours contracts (where the contract does not name a minimum number of hours to be worked) are used in Higher Education will come as a shock to many. Such contracts have been widely publicised in industries such as clothing (Sports Direct) and food retail (MacDonalds) but their use in universities has until now been under- reported. In fact the Higher Education sector is the second most casualised in the UK! The widespread use of ‘Hourly-Paid Lecturers’(HPLs) by universities is one example of the practice but it also applies to many technical and admin staff.

Zero-hours contracts give the employee only minimal rights. They lack job security, proper facilities or holiday pay and many have no access to sick pay or opportunities for professional development. HPLs have little control over their job and can’t plan their working life as their timetable can be changed without warning. Yet they have to hold themselves ready for any work that is going. Both the HPLs and the students they teach lose out in this system which can result in cuts and course changes to suit management priorities without proper consultation.

But the trend towards zero hours can be stopped and reversed. UCU members in Edinburgh University have forced management to stop using such contracts and strike action at Hovis in Wigan won permanent contracts for casualised workers. Others can do the same. Join our campaign for decent contracts for all hourly paid lecturers at all Universities in London.

Come to the meeting at London Met and help develop a charter for zero-hours workers.

See also: