Date Uploaded: 07/10/2016
The casualisation of lecturing jobs at University College Cork and other universities is exploitative of staff and threatens education standards, a union claims.
The Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT) said at least one third of those teaching at UCC are employed on a purely casual basis — affecting more than 200 staff there alone.
In a charter for casual workers launched by IFUT at UCC, academic staff are committed to collective action to highlight the issue and campaign for improved security and more sustainable levels of work.
“This is extremely demotivating for those involved and indeed for all academic staff. It results in rapid staff turnover, extremely precarious pay and conditions, and is totally unsatisfactory from the perspective of good teaching practice,” said IFUT general secretary Mike Jennings.
“At a time when international rankings for Irish universities are falling sharply, the blatant cost-cutting strategy behind casualisation of new staff is exacerbating problems. It is unfair and exploitative of staff and students alike, and must be reversed.”
Mr Jennings called for a reversal of casualisation policies throughout the university system, saying there has been a concerted attempt by management in recent years to implement casualisation and low pay for lecturing and research staff.
UCC said it is not operating a casualisation policy, but that it is required to show full regard for employment controls which are in place for all universities.
“UCC continues to prioritise the employment of academic staff and this is evidenced by the fact that there has been a great reduction in levels of administrative staff vis-à-vis academic staff,” said a spokesperson.
“In delivering a large and diverse range of courses, it is important that the university maintains flexibility to ensure that the appropriate expertise is available to deliver on all of its programmes.”
At institutes of technology, a process has been finalised that will see early-career lecturers offered greater protections such as reduced times to get permanency, following lobbying by the Teachers’ Union of Ireland.
Journalist: Niall Murray