Building solidarity at branch level – persuading members

As mentioned, it is crucial to break down the divisions between HPLs and their Main Grade colleagues.

The following arguments might be useful for branch meetings and campaign materials.

  • Equality: HPLs very often carry out exactly the same duties as Main Grade staff for many years but are on less favourable pay and conditions. This is clearly unfair, and leads to resentment and stress. In addition, permanent Fractional staff very often carry out HPL work on top of their Main Grade Contracts.
  • Cheaper staff undermine everyone’s pay: when a section of the workforce are carrying out the same teaching work for a lower wage, this lowers the monetary value of the work we all do. Managers can use this situation to attempt to lower everyone’s salary or move larger sections of the workforce on to casual contracts.
  • Worse conditions for some sections undermine the conditions for all: HPLs often perform the same duties as Main Grade staff, but under much worse conditions. For example, they may share desks, or not have access to the same facilities as other staff. This gives managers an opportunity to argue that since HPLs can provide the same service for less, all staff should be able to work under worse conditions.
  • Supportive culture: In institutions where all staff have decent terms and conditions, people are able to support each other. This makes for a better, less stressful, healthier environment where staff are incentivised and have the time to work together to improve the organisation. The opposite is true in workplaces that employ a high proportion of people on minimal pay and conditions. Building solidarity will also benefit other local struggles such as work-place bullying etc.
  • Quality of education: there is little incentive for Hourly Paid Lecturers to commit to long-term employment. As a result, staff retention and continuity of service can be poor. Because HPLs often feel exploited, there is also little incentive to work the over-time that teaching often demands, although they often do.
  • Professionalism: There is a worrying trend, particularly in FE and ACE, towards replacing qualified and experienced teachers whose conditions allow for time to develop their professionalism, with staff who do not have these advantages. Nationally, the Coalition are moving against professionalism in teaching with measures such as Academies, Free Schools and the removal of the legal requirement for FE teachers to have full PGCEs. This is ultimately damaging, not only to the quality of our delivery, but also our perceived public status as professionals and therefore our access to an academic narrative. Casualisation ultimately undercuts professionalism.

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