Zeroing in on zero hours

April 9, 2015

Ed Miliband should be applauded for his pledge to provide workers with a proper contract if they work regular hours on a zero-hours contract for 12 weeks. Casualisation is higher education’s dirty little secret and we will be keen to speak to the Labour leader and any other party that is determined to challenge the lack of job security in our universities.

It is a myth that casualised contracts offered a fair and sensible deal for both workers and employers. While some people may benefit from a casual contract, the key is that anyone who wants the security of a proper contract should be afforded it.

People on zero-hours and other casual contracts are unable to plan their lives on a month-by-month or even week-by-week basis. The lack of job security in our colleges and universities is a huge problem and the scale of insecure contracts would probably shock many students and parents.

World-leading teaching and research in the UK has been built upon the hidden exploitation of a highly insecure workforce. Changing that culture, rather than pretending it does not exist, is our greatest challenge.

Sally Hunt
General secretary
University and College Union

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