Readers reactions

January 15, 1999

Last week in The THESI Larry Bunt argued that the casualisation of the university workforce was a good thing.

* Tom Wilson Head of universities at lecturers' union Natfhe.

The proportion of academic staff on fixed-term contracts (45 per cent) is ten times greater than the proportion of such staff elsewhere in the economy. Bunt's university, Westminster, has nearly 1,000 part-time lecturers doing, for the most part, regular teaching. Even if they work the 550 maximum contract hours, they would be paid less than the starting salary for new lecturers and about half the average lecturer's salary. That is not a minor abuse.

Bunt should know that the government will soon abolish the unfair-dismissal waiver, that a Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals guide recommends not using waivers and that many universities honour redundancy rights. Contract staff suffer unjustifiable job insecurity and worse conditions of employment than permanent staff. That insecurity affects the quality of their teaching and research - as research commissioned by us will demonstrate shortly.

* John Morton School of applied sciences University of Glamorgan

It is the easiest thing in the world to think you can change economic woes by sacking people.

These kinds of changes must be led from the front. If Mr Bunt and his staff at Westminster think casualisation is such a good idea, they should all resign and reapply as casual staff on three-month contracts.

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