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Taking action in higher education

South Downs College UCU - proud of their progress on permanent contracts

6 November 2015 | last updated: 22 January 2016

As part of their participation in UCU's 'stamp out casual contracts' campaign, branch officers at South Downs College in Hampshire have been campaigning hard to persuade managers to move hourly paid staff onto permanent fractional or full-time contracts.

Branch secretary Vicky Doxat has sent us the below update, reporting on the excellent progress they've managed to make, exploiting the opportunity presented by a sympathetic and constructive principal to drive home the case against casualisation:

'Our previous principal, Lyn Surgeon, who retired in 2015, was keen to formally recognise UCU as the trade union which represented staff and after requests from UCU branch officers, she implemented a Recognition and Facilities Agreement which previously we had not had. Lyn also established an HR department which again had not existed previously.

'As a result of the agreement a termly joint consultation and negotiating committee (JCNC) was established with senior managers, HR and UCU representation. Faced with discussions about a restructure, we took the opportunity to raise the issue of contracts of employment. When UCU officers made Lyn aware of UCU's national campaign against casualisation, the principal indicated that she was supportive of our suggestion of moving staff from temporary hourly-paid contracts to permanent fractional contracts. Obviously, we welcomed this move and as a result, we now have 95% of staff on permanent contracts and only 5% of staff on temporary hourly paid contracts.
It was agreed at a subsequent JCNC that all members of staff who had been employed by the college for four years or more on a C contract would be automatically moved to a fractional permanent contract. Although this only affected a small number of lecturers at the time it has set an important precedent for the future.
The drive to reduce casualisation at South Downs College was spearheaded by our membership secretary, Scott Alexander, who successfully used the Fixed-Term Workers Regulations to make a case for moving members onto permanent contracts. We were fortunate in that the Principal at the time was also convinced of the case against casualisation. Our new principal has already stated that he intends to move towards 80% of staff being on permanent contracts and 20% on hourly-paid contracts so UCU officers at South Downs College are gearing up to defend the progress we've made.'