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Chamber and committees

Motion ref. S6M-03099

Precarious Employment in Further and Higher Education

Submitted by: Katy Clark, West Scotland, Scottish Labour.
Date lodged: Thursday, February 10, 2022

Supported by: Sarah Boyack, Maggie Chapman, Foysol Choudhury, Pam Duncan-Glancy, Ross Greer, Daniel Johnson, Monica Lennon, Fulton MacGregor, Ruth Maguire, Pauline McNeill, Paul O'Kane, Alex Rowley, Mark Ruskell, Anas Sarwar, Kaukab Stewart, Paul Sweeney, Mercedes Villalba (Registered interest ), Martin Whitfield
Current status: Achieved cross-party support

That the Parliament notes the strike action announced by University and College Union (UCU) members to be taken across Scottish universities in February 2022, including in the West Scotland region; understands that a key demand of the workers is a nationally-agreed framework to eliminate precarious employment; notes with concern data published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, which reportedly showed that 32% of all UK University staff were on fixed-term contracts in 2020-21 and 33% of all Scotland-based University staff were on fixed-term contracts in 2019-20; further notes College Staffing Data, published by the Scottish Funding Council, which reportedly showed that 13% of all teaching staff at Scottish colleges were on temporary contracts in 2019-20; notes with concern the findings of the UCU report, Second Class Academic Citizens: The dehumanising effects of casualisation in higher education, published in 2020, which found that students on temporary or fixed-term contracts felt invisible, vulnerable, lacking in agency and unable to make long-term plans; further notes surveys carried out by the UCU in June 2019, which reportedly found that 93% of respondents on fixed-term contracts in further education roles and 97% of respondents on fixed-term contracts in higher education roles would rather be on permanent contracts; understands that employers have a statutory responsibility to ensure that workers must not be treated less favourably than comparable staff; notes the calls for academic institutions not to use employment agencies to recruit staff; further notes the calls for the Scottish Funding Council to set out guidance that temporary or fixed-term contracts should not be used; acknowledges the view that academic institutions should seek to negotiate with trade unions to transition staff in precarious employment to more secure contracts, and notes the calls for the Scottish Government to work with higher and further education institutions, local authorities and trade unions to put an end to what it considers the precarious employment in the academic sector.