Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Work work work

Afternoon all. I've been quiet today because I've been too busy to become outraged by anything. First of all we had a seminar on Paradise Lost Book IX. Rather wonderfully, we talked for 90 minutes on just one small chunk of lines, and they came up with interpretations that hadn't occurred to me. I love it when I learn in seminars as well as the students. Sadly though, we all agreed that we couldn't answer the big questions posed in PL: free will, the origins of evil, is Milton blaming Eve solely. Maybe next time.

After that, it was a staff seminar on routes to and strategies for publication, which was useful and interesting. On the way, I stopped at our UCU campaign against casualisation. Certainly neither of my departments could survive without the hourly-paid staff whom we exploit massively. We used to have a pathway to fractional contracts, but it's been abandoned. So we won't pay to train and educate our teachers, nor give them proper employment rights or support their research: we'll just selfishly leach off their hard work and good will, safe in the knowledge that there will always be more desperate people ready to replace anyone who gets above their station. Some of our visiting lecturers have published more (and better) than us, and teach way more hours than permanent full-timers, yet we can't even regularise their employment.

And a banner on the website advertising the 'anti-casualisation' action was deemed 'offensive' by the Director of Marketing. That'll be the Director of Marketing whose Twitter feed includes these gems:

Now that's how to run a university's communications department!

And now I'm off to see Steve Reich!


AnnaD said...

Thank you for your point about Visiting Lecturers. As a union member and hourly-paid lecturer at a Midlands university, I appreciate that you highlight the difficulties (add to that sense of futility at times) that hourly-paid staff face despite having publications, book contracts, and years of teaching experience.

The Plashing Vole said...

We're nowhere near as bad as the US, where humiliated and underpaid 'freeway academics' are the backbone of the system, but we've enough to be ashamed of. I was an hourly-paid lecturer for 8 years and struggled to even get paid regularly, let alone paid properly. At my place, one HPL works more scheduled hours than any full-time colleague. She has a book out and multiple papers, yet we can't or won't employ her. Disgraceful.