Inquiry Into Insecure Work told ACT universities are a key site of precarious employment
The employment of academics in ACT universities is becoming increasingly precarious, the NTEU told the Independent Inquiry into Insecure Work in Australia at its Canberra hearing today.
The ACT Division Secretary, Stephen Darwin, told the committee that universities are now a significant site of insecure work, with fewer than 40% of academics in Australian now permanently employed.
Stephen also described the highly stressful nature of increasingly widespread ‘contingent employment’, where continued work was dependent on meeting escalating university demands for constant high-level research output, measured arbitrarily and without taking into account varying teaching and administration workloads.
Assistant professorships at UC, for example, have a seven-year probation period with very high expectations of performance and progression over that period.
Stephen also told the Inquiry that there was clear evidence that research demands are becoming even more unreasonable in ACT universities. He pointed out that ‘most of these targeted staff are early career academics who are desperately trying to balance the demands of complex teaching and research expectations, whilst trying to maintain a reasonable work-life balance’.
‘The NTEU locally is dealing with an increasing number of cases of supervisors demanding extraordinary research performance, causing enormous stress for individuals and undermining their ability to undertake a full range of academic activities, most notably quality teaching’, he told the inquiry.
The Inquiry also heard from casually-engaged ACT academic staff who discussed the effects of being denied permanent employment, even though there was clearly permanent work to be done. They reported the difficulty of surviving on limited semester-based incomes, the fear of non-renewal of contracts and anxieties about limited superannuation.
Post a comment
Office G06 Commercial Centre Rockhampton Campus
Central Queensland University
Phone: 07 4930 9745
Fax: 07 4930 9279