Pub glass-ceiling

October 6, 2000

The employer claim that hourly paid staff do not merit pro-rata contracts because their work differs from that of full-time colleagues, flies in the face of the evidence ("Part-timers cut pay bills by Pounds 50m", THES, September 29).

It is hard to see how employers can know what hourly paid staff do unless they are aware of who they employ. Judging by the poor response of pre-1992 universities to requests for data on the number and contractual status of such staff, this knowledge eludes many. Little emerged in the Bett report, save a request for better statistics.

The few surveys of hourly paid staff at pre-1992 universities reveal stark disparities of remuneration for equal academic work. Many holders of PhDs would attract better money washing glasses in a pub.

Although potentially in breach of the recent part-time worker regulations, the bulk of hourly paid staff still provide academic services at bargain basement costs.

The puzzle is why, having recruited such profitable human assets to save money, employers perversely argue for the need to lower costs by sacking them.

The business case is surely to place all hourly paid staff on indefinite pro-rata contracts.

Chris Kynch Chair, Fixed-term Non-contract-Research Staff Committee, AUT

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