Temporary work at £9 an hour. No wonder lecturers are balloting to strike

Tomorrow a ballot of University and College Union (UCU) members will close, possibly leading to strikes in the new year. Its general secretary, Jo Grady, has warned that feelings are running high. The Guardian reports.

According to 2016 research from the union, more than half of all academics are on temporary contracts. This has combined with an erosion of pay in real terms (which the union estimates has fallen by 17% since 2009), rising workloads (staff work an average of more than two unpaid days each week) and a gender pay gap of 15.9%.

Hannah Boast, a research fellow at Warwick University says her first job – at another university – after finishing her PhD in English literature was paid at 0.7 of a full-time wage, despite her working more than full time – a common setup for early-career lecturers.

According to UCU, the median hourly rate for a lecturer on a 10-hour week contract is £18.70, but if they are working 20 hours a week (the median from its survey), pay falls to a real hourly rate of £9.35. This is despite lecturers having trained for at least seven years.

“Being early in my career and knowing lots of people in part-time, fixed-term jobs you see lots of people working extremely hard, getting exhausted and burned out – then leaving the sector,” says Boast.

This month’s ballot has the support of the shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, who has called for universities to work with staff to address the fact that “a combination of falling pay, rising workloads and increasingly insecure employment is making a career in higher education less sustainable”.

Read the full article Temporary work at £9 an hour. No wonder lecturers are balloting to strike 

Are more lecturer strikes on the horizon? Please tell us you thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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