Saturday, September 19, 2009

Clear your desk and head for the airport.

Ok, it has been quite some time since we posted here. This is in part a reflection of the frenzied activity that takes place in universities in late August/early September, wrapping up the newly ended academic year, supervising and marking projects, rushing to complete research commitments, upgrading facilities, hosting summer-schools and conferences and then the final burst to get ready for a new cohort of thousands of new students in September. Date-wise of course it coincides with politicians' holidays and so it permits the continued persistence of the long-summer-vacation myth of the ivory tower. Not all of us have the contractual conditions of parliamentarians or some others, but despite the pressures we do the work, and often in blatant disregard for the European working directive (particularly when the new semester kicks in).

For some though, this particular new academic year marks a devastating period in their professional lives as with contracts due for renewal, the public sector moratorium tramples on their hopes, disregards their experience, their productivity and their talent and brutally casts them aside to join the ranks of the unemployed and the world of mortgage arrears. Its scattergun approach across the whole sector shows a complete lack of foresight, strategy and logic. The 'smart economy' is unlikely to be built on dumb decisions.

This may sound like a somewhat bitter posting, but its high time someone acknowledged the work of contract staff and their situation puts in perspective some of the fretting of those of in permanent posts about relatively minor issues (as frequently voiced at academic meetings and elsewhere), with the scale and impact of the recruitment freeze perhaps not yet fully appreciated.

If only it was in our power to do something about the situation. Of course there is talk that the moratorium may be challenged given that it is counter to the 1997 Universities' Act in denying autonomy to the institutions, but whether such will have any real traction remains to be seen.


Anonymous said...

Is this commentary directed at colleagues in CELT?

Iain said...

Hah I see what you mean! The original version was ambiguously worded in that it could be viewed (at a somewhat askance angle it has to be said) to imply criticism of people in permanent posts complaining about things, rather than the real emphasis on solidarity with those facing the end of their contracts and the frustration of trying to salvage posts across the sector!