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Open University breaks promise on pay and job security to over 4,000 staff

24 March 2021

UCU said the Open University is betraying more than 4,000 staff by reneging on its agreement to implement a new contract which was meant to come into force in October 2021.

The Open University was due to bring in new terms and conditions for its 4,000 associate lecturers, who are currently on casualised contracts with little job security. The new contract had been agreed with UCU in 2018 following five years of negotiation, and is meant to provide job security by preventing staff from having  to re-apply for new teaching contracts. It also includes a pay rise which for most associate lecturers would be roughly 10%. It would allow staff to demonstrate that they have a continuous source of income, which is important for securing a mortgage or when renting. Under the current contract associate lecturers are at risk of losing their jobs if student numbers drop on their module. By moving them to a secure contract, redundancy is a last resort rather than the first option.

The university now claims - after agreeing to the new contract more than two years ago - that it does not have sufficient systems and capacity in place to implement the contract successfully.

UCU branch president Caitlin Adams said: 'Staff have taken life-changing financial decisions on the basis of promises the Open University made on job security and pay. Its decision to delay the contract was taken in the middle of a pandemic without any mitigation in place to offset the losses suffered by our members.

'It is completely unacceptable for the Open University to betray more than 4,000 of its staff by breaking promises that those staff have planned their lives around. The university is trying to make vulnerable staff pay for its mistakes. Unless staff are paid what they are owed and given job security, members are prepared to consider all possibilities including industrial action.'

Last updated: 24 March 2021