Working life at the University of Birmingham is far from comfortable for many, and we’ve got an opportunity this year to put things right. In welcome news, a new Twitter account under the banner of Precarious Brum has emerged out from self-organised casualised staff, seeking to lift the lid on the extent of precarious employment at UoB.
So far, we’ve heard that an astonishingly high number of staff – over 2,000 – are on fixed-term contracts in spite of lavish spending on vanity projects like Dubai and the Green Heart, and that life as a 0.7 teaching fellow is a question of ‘[acting] as if we’re going to be unemployed tomorrow’. Most of all, Precarious Brum ask those of us who are not casualised staff to support our precariously employed colleagues where they can. Many do already, but if you haven’t really thought much about the teaching fellows, research fellows, hourly-paid lecturers, GTAs or contract staff of all kinds that you might bump into in the corridor, why not make your new year’s resolution to show solidarity to them, by speaking up for their place as members of the department or sharing teaching resources with them?
These kind of revelations highlight the importance of Voting Yes to strike action when your ballot paper lands. Casualisation remains one of the worst scandals in higher education – make 2019 the year you Vote Yes, for a University of Birmingham with minimum contracts of twelve months, contracts for all employees, and a clear route to permanence for fixed-term staff.