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Les "contrats zéro heure" dans les universités britanniques. octobre 2013.

samedi 26 octobre 2013, par Jara Cimrman

Le Bureau national de la statistique (ONS) britannique a lancé une enquête sur la mesure du nombre d’"employés" sous contrats "zéro heure" en Grande-Bretagne.
Rappel de l’ampleur estimée du phénomène dans les universités britanniques, et de ses effets.

Sur la remise en cause du chiffrage, voir ici.

Universities twice as likely as other employers to use zero-hours contracts

Half of universities and two-thirds of further education colleges use zero-hours contracts, freedom of information requests reveal.
The Guardian, 5 septembre 2013.

Universities and colleges are more than twice as likely to employ staff on controversial zero-hours contracts as other workplaces, freedom of information requests have found.
More than half of the 145 UK universities and nearly two-thirds of the 275 further education colleges that responded to the requests said they used the contracts, which do not specify working hours and often give limited guarantees on conditions. The FoI requests were made by the University and College Union (UCU).
Among businesses in the wider economy, according to recent research from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, just over a quarter (27%) of companies use zero-hours contracts.
The UCU president, Simon Renton, said : "Our findings shine a light on the murky world of casualisation in further and higher education. The widespread use of zero-hours contracts is the unacceptable underbelly of our colleges and universities."
Just under half of the universities that responded to the union said they employed more than 200 staff on the highly flexible work contracts that do not guarantee any work or pay, can restrict employment elsewhere and can also deny holiday and sick pay. Five institutions including Edinburgh, Bath and Kingston universities employed more than 1,000 people in this way.
Universities contacted by the Guardian said that many different kinds of teaching-related staff could be put on zero-hours contracts including visiting lecturers, PhD students who also taught, examiners, teaching assistants and specialists who might be brought in to help out with specific research projects.
UCU said use of the contracts was "haphazard" and it was difficult to gauge their exact use within institutions. Some universities, for example, might put all their PhD students on zero-hours contracts in case they chose to engage in teaching, but those students might never actually work for the university.
According to the information it provided to the UCU, Edinburgh University appears to have 2,317 teaching staff on zero-hours terms – the highest number in the survey. A spokesman for the university said "significant numbers" of staff were on the flexible contracts but no more than 5% of work carried out in the university was paid for in this way. He added that some staff on zero-hours contracts were freelancers who were free to work elsewhere.
In a statement, the university said it had started to phase out the contracts : "We are committed to ceasing the use of ’hours to be notified’ contracts and to offering all employees guaranteed hours. We have already started this process and anticipate that the majority of employees presently on ’hours to be notified’ contracts will have guaranteed hours by the end of this calendar year."
Bath University, the second most prolific in using zero-hours contracts according to UCU’s data, said only staff working less than the equivalent of one day a week were on the flexible deals. It said those working on the contracts accounted for less than 5% of the total hours worked by its academic staff.
However, it told the UCU that it had about 200 teaching staff on zero-hours contracts in June who had worked during the last 12 months. That total is nearly two-thirds of the total number of teaching staff listed on its books by the Higher Education Statistics Authority.
The UCU said some universities were using the flexible contracts to help keep costs down during a tough period for the academic sector and "flexibility" could mean workers were unable to make financial or employment plans for the year or even the month ahead.
Philip Roddis, a 60-year-old part-time lecturer in computing and related
subjects, attempted to take Sheffield Hallam University to an employment
tribunal for unfair dismissal after his hours were suddenly reduced from an
average 400 a year to about 50.
Roddis said he was unaware that he was on a zero-hours contract with the
university until embarking on the legal action, which was thrown out at a
pre-hearing. "It was all in the small print," he said. "It’s been pretty devastating, I’m living on savings and am lucky that my kids have grown up and my mortgage is paid and I’ve got a bit of income from elsewhere. I don’t suspect there was malice but people like me aren’t very visible and I feel the university doesn’t really care."

Pour lire la suite.

More universities use zero-hours contracts than research shows

Lack of job security and extra non-contracted workload traps early career academics in a vicious cycle, says Carrie Dunn

A lire en intégralité sur le site du Guardian

I was interested to see the research by the Universities and Colleges Union that found that universities are twice as likely to use zero-hours contracts as other industries. Well, I say interested – I was more surprised : surprised that it was only twice as likely.
The casualisation of teaching staff in higher education has been a problem for years. When I first began teaching, shortly after I’d begun my PhD, I was asked to take on the entire teaching load of one of the department’s senior members of staff, who was off on a research sabbatical. Of course, being young and wanting the money, I agreed.
But as a visiting or hourly-paid lecturer, you usually only get paid for the contact hours – the time you spend in front of a class, delivering material that you’re not explicitly paid to produce. You don’t get sick pay or holiday pay ; the great myth that is propagated is that your hourly rate builds all those extras into it.
So you might be working essentially full time. You’re covering the workload of a senior member of staff – but you only get paid for the hours you’re actually teaching, without any of the benefits and security of being employed, such as time to write and research and attend conferences.
And, just as we’ve seen with the problem of internships, you’re unlikely to get a permanent position in a university unless you have some teaching experience already – so you’re stuck in the cycle of hourly-paid lecturing. Plus the fact you get senior staff telling you it’s likely that there’ll be a permanent position coming up soon, and you’re in the best possible position as the management team know you already, as do the students, just sit tight … and you’re too naive to realise you’re being strung along.
The insecurity is distressing too. Departments tend to wait until the last possible minute before confirming staff’s research leave, meaning the casual staff are kept waiting before being offered a module, or two, or three, to teach. Writing course materials a couple of days before term starts is not fun.
One of my friends, who found himself in a similar position, says : "The problem with zero-hours contracts in higher education is that they fill a gap for both the academic and the university. After completing my PhD, jobs were hard to come by. The university allowed me to build my teaching portfolio by filling in the gaps of their curriculum. The problem for a new academic is that all teaching material has to be prepared from scratch, and preparation time is not included in a zero-hours contract. I ended up working at below minimum wage purely to gain some skills that would hopefully allow me to successfully apply for jobs.
"As I took more teaching roles, in order to make ends meet, it meant that I had less time to publish. This is now a central tenet of academia and seriously impeded my ability to successfully get interviews. Early career academics are in danger of being locked into a vicious cycle."
Universities will say that it’s rare that their casual teaching staff are tied to one institution and they’re free to work elsewhere and turn down hours if they like. But casual teaching staff – often people early in their career – find themselves terrified of upsetting or alienating a department or institution that ideally they’d like to work for in a permanent position.
Sure, you can argue if a department treats its casual staff dismissively, the casual staff shouldn’t want to work there ; but there are only so many departments that fit in with academic specialisms. If you want to research and teach on a particular topic, you only have a few potential employers to choose from.
It’s worked out for me, now on a fixed-term contract rather than an hourly one, but I haven’t got a family to support or any external obligations. In the meantime, early career academics are going to continue to leave the sector in favour of a more secure one. And who can blame them ?

Carrie Dunn is a journalist and visiting lecturer in media and sociology – follow her on Twitter @carriesparkle