Work & careers

Staff warn of ‘intimidatory’ tactics at Liverpool University after strike | Education

The University of Liverpool has told staff who went on strike over pay and pensions this week that they must catch up on missed work or risk penalties, despite already having their pay deducted over the eight-day industrial action. In an email sent by pro vice-chancellor Gavin Brown, members of the University and College Union were told that failure to reschedule teaching missed during the strike period would represent partial performance of their contracts, which “the university does not accept”.…

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‘The Netflixisation of academia’: is this the end for university lectures? | Education

Before this month’s strikes over low pay and pensions cuts, staff were warned to pause their lecture recordings while they told students that they would be taking part. The University and College Union (UCU), which organised the strike, worried that university management would search recordings to identify who would be engaging in industrial action, and introduce measures to lessen its impact. The union had good reason to be concerned: during last year’s strikes, the head of Edinburgh University’s law school…

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University strikes offer a lesson in principles, pay and pensions | Letter | Education

Your editorial is right to emphasise the wider issues in the strike by university lecturers and support services (Lecturers have a just cause in this important battle for the soul of the campus, 26 November). But the pensions issue still lies at the heart of the dispute. With a few retired colleagues, we have been attempting to persuade both the University and College Union (UCU) and the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) to deal with the serious generational unfairness that has…

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I’m striking because insecure academic contracts are ruining my mental health | Sarah Darley | Education

This week, staff in 60 universities across the UK have been on an eight-day strike over pensions, pay and employment conditions. This has included growing casualisation in universities – which, as a researcher employed on a fixed-term contract, is my life. I’m not alone. A recent University and College Union (UCU) survey reported that 70% of the 49,000 researchers in higher education are currently employed on fixed-term contracts, as are 37,000 teaching staff (the majority of whom are paid hourly).…

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Students protest against Liverpool university’s claim that support for strike is ‘unlawful’ | Education

Students at the University of Liverpool blocked senior managers from entering their offices this morning in protest at an email sent by the university warning students that it is “unlawful” for them to join pickets in support of striking lecturers. The blockade took place on the fifth day of strikes over pay and pensions involving 60,000 members of the University and College Union. The students erected barriers in front of doors and put up banners voicing students’ solidarity. The blockade…

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University strike: tens of thousands of staff walk out across UK | Education

Universities across the UK are facing widespread disruption after tens of thousands of lecturers and other staff walked out on strike in protest over pay cuts, increased pension costs and deteriorating conditions. Union leaders reported a strong show of support on Monday for the industrial action, which will last eight days and could extend into the new year with a second wave of strikes if staff demands are not met. Pickets had been set up at 60 universities that are…

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Could job sharing solve universities’ big gender pay gap problem? | Emma Watton and Sarah Stables | Education

This year’s Equal Pay Day falls on 14 November. It’s the day women in the UK effectively start working the remainder of the year for free because of the gender pay gap. There are differences between sectors and industries but education is among the worst, with a pay gap of 25.9% as opposed to the national average of 17.9%. This means that a woman employed in education works, on average, 95 days a year without being paid. This is a…

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‘I would burn in hell before returning’ – why British teachers are fleeing overseas | Education

Perched high on a hill above the historic Swiss city of St Gallen, set in 25 acres of private parkland, sits one of the most expensive boarding schools in Europe. Costing up to £100,000 for an academic year, the Institut auf dem Rosenberg is more than twice as expensive as Eton college and educates the offspring of some of the wealthiest people in the world. Most of whom, it turns out, will be taught by teachers who trained in the…

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The Guardian view on boosting maternity leave: from small beginnings | Editorial | Opinion

It is a mark of how much society has moved on that a woman’s right to paid maternity leave, introduced in the UK in 1975, is now taken for granted. That fathers’ rights to time off lag so far behind, meaning that women continue to do the vast majority of unpaid domestic work and earn less money as a result, is a mark of how far we have still to go. Labour’s announcement on Thursday that statutory maternity pay (which…

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University staff don’t want to strike for fair pensions and pay, but we’re being forced to | Jo Grady | Education

Earlier this week, the University and College Union (UCU) announced that staff in 60 universities across the UK will abandon their offices, libraries, seminar rooms and lecture theatres for eight days of strike action beginning on 25 November. The strikes are the result of two ongoing disputes in higher education: one on pay, job security, workload and equality, and one on changes to Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pensions. Although these are separate disputes, they speak to a common theme. Over…

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UK work absence due to sickness ‘halved in past two decades’ | Society

The rate of absence from work due to sickness in people in the UK with no long-term health problems has halved in the past two decades, official figures reveal. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said minor illnesses were the most common cause of absences when all groups of people were taken into account in 2018, accounting for more than a quarter of the more than 141m days missed. That was followed by musculoskeletal problems, at nearly 20%. Discounting “other”…

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Microsoft Japan tested a four-day work week. Productivity jumped by 40% | Technology

Microsoft tested out a four-day work week in its Japan offices and found as a result employees were not only happier – but significantly more productive. For the month of August, Microsoft Japan experimented with a new project called Work-Life Choice Challenge Summer 2019, giving its entire 2,300 person workforce five Fridays off in a row without decreasing pay. The shortened weeks led to more efficient meetings, happier workers, and boosted productivity by a staggering 40%, the company concluded at…

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‘It’s in complete crisis’ – architects form trade union amid fury and despair over exploitation | Art and design

Unpaid overtime, precarious contracts, working hours so antisocial your only friends are people who do the same job … after a minimum of seven years’ education and professional training, the reality of working as an architect can be a bleak prospect. It’s not hard to see why so many of them wear black, as if in permanent mourning for the lives they once had. “Spending almost 10 years at uni to be paid £20,000 doesn’t seem right,” says Joseph, a…

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Temporary work at £9 an hour. No wonder lecturers are balloting to strike | Education

When Thomas Swann completed his PhD in 2015, he spent three weeks applying for 40 different jobs in academia. He was lucky to secure a dream position at Leicester University’s department of politics and international relations, but the year-long contract meant it wouldn’t be the end of his job hunt. He is currently on his fifth short-term contract, now at Loughborough, and has no idea whether he’ll still be working in six months’ time. “It makes life frantic because as…

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Universities under fire for outsourcing low-paid campus jobs | Education

Universities have been criticised for “tearing away” wages, pensions and rights from low-paid staff amid a steep increase in the number of outsourced cleaning, security and maintenance staff working on campuses. Data released by 42 universities in England, Scotland and Wales to the Guardian under freedom of information laws revealed their spending on outsourced workers – often employed on zero-hour contracts by separate companies to work on campuses – has more than doubled in seven years, increasing by almost 70%…

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Fancy a career change? Six tips for finding a new job | Guardian Careers

Work out why your current job makes you unhappy If returning to work after the Christmas break has left you feeling unmotivated, rather than raring to go, then it could be time to move on. But first it is important to identify whether your dissatisfaction is temporary or seasonal. “January can certainly feel a bit flat after the holidays, but if you’ve been thinking for a while that you need to make positive changes in your career, then it’s unlikely…

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