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UCU slams Edinburgh Napier University for zero-hours lecturer job ads

14 July 2014

Edinburgh Napier University is under fire after it was revealed that it is advertising lecturer posts on zero-hours contracts. UCU has today written* to the institution warning that employing staff on zero-hours contracts is bad news for the staff employed and does nothing to enhance the student experience.

The university is currently advertising for a lecturer post in Studies in Child and Public Protection, and has recently advertised other lecturer roles on a zero-hours contract basis. The union has been at the forefront of efforts to remove zero-hours contracts from higher education.
In April 2014 the union gave evidence to the Scottish Affairs Select Committee's inquiry into zero-hours contracts. The committee's report said it was alarmed by the extent to which zero-hours contracts are used by Scottish universities and that some universities were being kept going by staff earning less than the minimum wage. It described the situation as 'unashamed exploitation'.
UCU Scotland official, Mary Senior, said: 'Employing lecturers on zero-hours contracts is not conducive to a professional, well-supported and valued workforce. Students want staff who are not only on campus when the university can offer them some hourly work.
'The continued use and promotion of zero-hours jobs in the sector is an embarrassment, and is damaging the reputation of higher education in Scotland.'

* Dear Professor Nolan,
I would like to raise with you the University and College Union's deep concern about your institution's use of zero-hours lecturer contracts, and in particular the continual advertising of such zero-hours lecturer contracts.
You may be aware that UCU has been campaigning for some time against the casualisation of the workforce across the university sector.  We do not believe that employing individuals on zero-hours contracts is conducive to a professional, well-supported and valued workforce, nor does it promote a positive student experience.
UCU has provided evidence on the problems of zero-hours contracts in the sector to the Scottish Affairs Committee's recent inquiry, where we have outlined the challenges of low pay, insecurity, and lack of professional development.  The Committee's interim report on zero-hours includes specific references to addressing zero-hours contracts in higher education:
As joint trade unions we have raised our concerns about the widespread use of such contracts at the University Sector Advisory Forum, discussion paper attached. 
UCU is pleased to be working with a number of employers in the sector in Scotland to move away from the use of zero-hours and hours to be notified contracts.  I would urge Edinburgh Napier University to engage with its trade unions on this matter and to end the use and promotion of such contracts at the institution.
I would be happy to discuss this matter further with you, and I trust that the university will address this serious issue which is damaging the reputation of higher education in Scotland.
Yours sincerely
Mary Senior
Scotland Official

Last updated: 10 December 2015