Image: Warwick Anti-Casualisation / Facebook

Petition launched for fair teaching conditions at Warwick

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A petition demanding fairer conditions for teaching staff at Warwick University was started by Warwick Anti-Casualisation yesterday, 22 November 2016.

The petition forms part of a wider recent debate over the increasing amount of teachers at top universities who are underpaid and on insecure contracts, in spite of high student fees and many universities embarking on expensive expansions.

In response to this issue Warwick Anti-Casualisation – a coalition of hourly-paid staff and PhD students – have mobilised to fight for better rights and fairer pay for their work teaching at Warwick University.

The demands set out in their petition are as follows:

  1. To legally consider all teachers as employees
  2. To pay teachers for all hours of work – including preparation and marking
  3. To ensure payment is consistent for all hours of work – regardless of whether this involves preparation or contact teaching hours
  4. To ensure teachers are paid equally and have the same rights across departments
  5. To not require PHD students to work hours for free
  6. To pay teachers for compulsory training

The petition has been uploaded on Warwick Anti-Casualisation’s website where they urge people to sign, saying: “Teachers at Warwick deserve pay and contracts that properly reflect their work, their skills and their overall importance for the functioning of the university.”

They argue that the Sessional Teaching Payroll, a pilot scheme set up by the university to reassess the conditions of hourly paid teaching is still, “deeply unsatisfactory” and continues to “greatly underestimate the time requirements for teaching-related tasks.”

They state the demands are needed: “Not only improve the working conditions of teachers, but also the learning conditions of students.”

Many of the teachers involved in Warwick Anti-Causualisation are postgraduate students at the university required to take on teaching hours alongside studying. Nat Panda, Warwick Student’s Union (SU) Postgraduate Officer, has shared his support for the petition online stating: “The ‘6 Demands’ campaign outlines what steps are needed to improve the situation.”

In a recent blogpost, Nat also highlighted how postgraduate teachers are hit particularly hard by unfair pay and insecure working conditions.

Warwick Anti-Casualisation’s ‘6 Demands’ petition is a fantastic way of not only spreading awareness amongst the Warwick community about how hourly-paid teachers are being treated, but also building pressure on the university to take action and give all staff the fair deal they deserve.

Hope Worsdale, Education Officer

He explains: “Despite the fact that postgraduate teachers now provide most of the contact hours for undergraduate students, they are still not even recognised or treated as employees. At best, they can expect to earn less than a true living wage. At worst, they earn less than even a minimum wage or end up working many hours unpaid – all this alongside having to balance their own studies and personal lives.”

Hope Worsdale, Warwick SU Education Officer, said of the petition: “Warwick Anti-Casualisation’s ‘6 Demands’ petition is a fantastic way of not only spreading awareness amongst the Warwick community about how hourly-paid teachers are being treated, but also building pressure on the university to take action and give all staff the fair deal they deserve.”

She too highlighted that the issue is not just of concern to staff or to postgraduates but to the entire student body by pointing out: “Staff working conditions are students’ learning conditions and so these six Demands being realised would not only be the morally right thing to, but it would also have hugely positive effects on quality of teaching and feedback at Warwick.”

Warwick Anti-Causualisation’s petition can be found here.

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