Time bomb with a longer fuse

March 3, 2000

Natasha Loder asserts that we have something to learn from the United States ("Just what the postdocs ordered", THES, February 25).

Despite scandalous levels of casualisation in United Kingdom universities, the employment of research staff here is much better regulated than it appears to be in the US.

Research staff are paid on national scales, unfair dismissal waivers are illegal, full redundancy consultation rights apply to attempted non-renewal of fixed-term contracts. All UK universities have signed the concordat on career management of research staff, which is monitored by a national steering group. National negotiations on casualisation are taking place. All these developments have come about through trade union pressure. Invisible networks and email lists are useful, but they are no substitute for the organised support of a trade union.

David Green Vice-president Association of University Teachers.

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