Agreement defended

August 4, 2000

The national casualisation agreement is not perfect but some of the criticisms made of it - and of Natfhe for agreeing to it - are inaccurate (Letters, THES, July 28). Far from not aiming to reduce casualisation, it says "the purpose of this report is to reduce the number of staff on fixed-term and casual posts". Far from being ignorant of equal opportunity issues, it says "it is important that institutions ensure the principle of non-discrimination is applied rigorously". Far from undermining legislation, it spells out the implications of existing and impending legislation.

It does not say short-term funding justifies casual contracts but that reasons for casualisation could include that "the funding is of short-term duration and longer term funding is unlikely". Crucially, the institution must prove this, because the agreement also says it is "essential there are transparent and objective reasons".

It discourages the use of the redundancy waiver. It says casual staff should have similar terms and conditions to those in indefinite comparable jobs and there should be a periodic review to look at transfer to "longer term employment and/or transfer to pro-rata contracts". It spells out that the expiry of a fixed-term contract is a redundancy.

It's not perfect but it's useful in our continuing campaign against casualisation, that is why Natfhe, Unison, GMB, TGWU, MSF and EIS signed it. Rumours of the death of national bargaining are somewhat premature. Interested readers can see the agreement at www.natfhe.org.uk Tom Wilson

Head, universities department, Natfhe

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