Laurie Taylor column

February 11, 2005

Maureen, did you read The Times Higher last week?

Not every word, Professor Lapping. I got caught up with odd bits of essential work. But I'll certainly keep it for my Easter Sunday break.

Far too late, Maureen. Far too late. This calls for immediate action. You see, according to original research by that paper there are people working in social science departments - departments such as ours, Maureen - who are working for absolutely nothing at all.

Really?

Oh, yes. Listen. Here it is: "Desperate research staff work for no pay in UK universities in order to maintain their job prospects." Maureen, these are very serious allegations. Very serious. We must take collective action at once to ensure that our own house is in order before we have corporate management on our backs. I would therefore like you to carry out a full and immediate investigation into any unpaid work undertaken in this department.

I'm honoured to have been chosen, Professor Lapping. You'd like me to check whether anyone in this department is working for nothing?

That's right.

And you'd like to know the full context in which such unpaid work takes place?

Of course. The full context. What else?

You'd like to know, for example, whether anyone is routinely staying late and working far more than their contractual hours. You'd like to know whether anyone is required to work during weekends or designated vacations.

You'd like to know anyone who comes in on open days or degree days without additional pay, or anyone who has carried out such additional non-designated duties as the preparation for the Higher Education Role Analysis rollout, the organisation of performance review schedules, the counselling of distraught students and the regular provision of staff alibis.

Maureen!

Professor Lapping?

No "full context".

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